Summer Reading – Short Stories by Ben Loory

Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day
     Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day          by Ben Loory

I found a review of this collection on Goodreads ; there were some vague references to Ray Bradbury and that was enough to pique (I always accidentally say this word as “pee-kew” instead of peak) my interest.

I became a fan of short stories about three years ago when I first came across Dandelion Wine and The Martian Chronicles. Discovering Bradbury’s collections are what spurred me on to attempt some writing of my own moreso than anyone else I’ve read. It was after reading “The Veldt”, “There Will Come Soft Rains”, “The Fog Horn”, and the list could go on forever I realized that being a “real writer” didn’t mean only churning out Dead Russian-sized perfect novels. It was liberating to experience a complete story encapsulated in such a small package. Continue reading “Summer Reading – Short Stories by Ben Loory”

Flashback – The Illustrated Man

The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury

I would be hard pressed to tell you which of the three collections I’ll talk about this week is my favourite collection. But The Illustrated Man does sell itself hard. The premise for the story itself is fascinating to me. Several of the short stories in the collection appear in other collections as well. So when I read The Illustrated Man it felt odd to recognize them. However, given the new premise for the collection I felt as though I was given an opportunity to read them for the first time all over again.

In this collection the “main character” traveling one night comes across a man tattooed completely from head to foot. There is only one space on his back that is not filled in with ink. It supposedly tells the future.

The unnamed narrator looks at all of the Man’s tattoos and the reader gets to vicariously experience some of Bradbury’s most imaginative stories. “The Veldt” gives me chills to this day. “The Fox and the Forest” has a great Hemingway sort of feel to it. “The Exiles” breathes life into some of Literature’s most beloved characters (and some of Bradbury’s favourite authors). Can you tell that I was completely fascinated by this collection? I absolutely loved it.

Apparently Bradbury received mixed reviews for the framing and the collection of the stories. However, I found them wonderful. Each story chosen demonstrates Bradbury’s ability to span genres, to make the future appear acceptably foreign yet relatable as it actually is, and completely creep the reader out. They are parts horror, fantasy, science fiction, and parable. Wonderful fodder for the imagination. Reading something by Bradbury puts me on a high for several days.

You can read a bit more about the collection here. Now, this book was made into a movie which I attempted to watch once. But it was filmed in 1969 and had far too much brown in the scenery. I didn’t make it much past the first five minutes or so. However I’d like to give it another go and since I’m keeping my Netflix/Qwikster account I’m sure that will be possible. Plus this poster is really freaking cool.

The Illustrated Man, the movie

  Tomorrow we’ll talk about the second collection I read: The Martian Chronicles.

Flashback – The Martian Chronicles

The first official day of fall is not until September 23rd so I find myself in a dilemma. Most of my “book reviews” have gone up under a Summer Reading heading. Now I’m curious if I should immediately switch to a General Reading sort of heading as soon as the 23rd hits or still categorize everything I’ve finished before Sept. 23rd as Summer Reading. Ah, the bothersome details of the life of a blogger. These are things you probably don’t even notice about the posts’ categories. Oh well. If you have any sort of feedback, feel free to share. For now I’m going to discuss another book I read a few years ago.

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

Let’s take a gander at that beautiful artwork, shall we?

If you click here it takes you to a pretty cool post showing the evolution of the cover art from its original publication date of 1950 until 2009. The 1984 version is pretty much my favourite. There’s also a graphic novel version of this collection.

Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles: The Authorized Adaptation
   Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles: The Authorized Adaptation          by Dennis Calero

I only just discovered this version. I may look into it a bit further since I do love this collection so much. Earlier this summer I made a foray into the world of Graphic Novels (which made Pam pretty excited) and I have a bit more patience for them than I did before. I’m a fan of the sedate in my entertainment.

Anyway, now that I’ve given you about five billion pictures to look at let’s talk about the collection. Hmm, where to start? Okay, I’ll be honest I most assuredly did not want to read this book when it was first suggested to me. I even went so far as to read just the first short story and half of the second and claim I didn’t like it. Accordingly I gave it back to the friend who let me borrow it and attempted to distract her from her Bradbury conversion of my imagination. (Turns out my kryptonite was Dandelion Wine). Once I read DW I decided to give The Martian Chronicles another go. I’m so glad I did.

Here are the things I love the most about The Martian Chronicles in no particular order Continue reading “Flashback – The Martian Chronicles”

Flashback – Dandelion Wine

It’s fitting that I’m reviewing this book today. It is, after all, officially Fall now. And though I know several of my friends greatly enjoy this time of year because it means that we can wear scarves and drink spiced hot drinks I find myself despondent over the close of Summer. I wish I had my own collection of Dandelion Wine stockpiled in the basement to keep away the Winter Blues. Little bottles of liquid sunshine; reminiscent of the bygone days of Summer.

Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury 

This is actually the first complete collection I read. It introduced me to a wonderfully “down-home” Bradbury. The premise of the collection is set in 1920s Green Town, Illinois and young Douglas Spaulding in particular. The name of the collection is described in Douglas’ words as: “Dandelion wine. The words were summer on the tongue. The wine was summer caught and stoppered.”

It’s a beautiful, fantasy filled romp through the last days of childhood. And though the time period was some 80 years before I read it, I felt connected to the story. It brought me back to the year we lived behind my grandparents in a camper. We planted rows of vegetables that we ate almost straight out of the ground. We had a fire every night and roasted marshmallows quite often. My bed was the couch and we had a little barn storage unit that was our closet. We were right on the edge of the woods and every day I would sneak back there and try to walk around as quietly as possible. I also remember eating a lot of cornbread. I learned to drive the 3wheeler then. I know now that it was a rough spot financially for my family, but I loved every minute of it. It was like an adventure all the time. (And it could be why I’m fascinated by Airstreams and want to live in one).

Continue reading “Flashback – Dandelion Wine”

birds & songs & thinking

I have a confession to make: I sort of miss non-fiction. I hated, loathed, detested, and abhorred non-fiction in high school. Then in college I started reading spiritual non-fiction; a little Rob Bell, a little Shane Claiborne, a little Erwin McManus. I was easily tricked into this genre because I was used to reading Bible Studies and, of course, my Bible. And then Into the Wild blew up (because of the movie) and John Krakauer entered my world.

I was a little behind. I’ll admit, but whenever I find something I enjoy I track down everything else that person has done and devour it. So, along with Ray Bradbury and Frank Delaney, I credit John Krakauer with giving me the courage to start telling stories. And I realized this morning as I began to process how I would review Imperfect Birds by Anne Lamott that I miss reading non-fiction. The last non-fiction I read was Talking to Girls about Duran Duran back in May. It taught me a lot about 80s music and how being a teenager hasn’t really changed since the 80s. Actually, I take that back… I read Love Wins. Continue reading “birds & songs & thinking”

Another Reason I Love Ray Bradbury

“America” by Ray Bradbury

America: an ode to immigrants

We are the dream that other people dream.

The land where other people land.

When late at night

They think on flight

And, flying, here arrive

Where we fools dumbly thrive ourselves.

Refuse to see

We be what all the world would like to be.

Because we have within this scheme

The obvious dream blind to us.

We do not mind the miracle we are,

So stop our mouths with curses.

While all the world rehearses

Coming here to stay.

We busily make plans to go away.

How dumb! newcomers cry, arrived from Chad.

You’re mad! Iraqis shout.

We’d sell our souls if we could be you.

How come you cannot see the way we see you?

You tread a freedom forest as you please

But, damn! You miss the forest for the trees.

Ten thousand wanderers a week

Engulf your shore,

You wonder what their shouting’s for,

And why so glad?

Run warm those souls: America is  abd?

Sit down, stare their faces, see!

You’d be the hoped-for thing a hopeless world would be.

In tides of immigrants that this year flow

You still remain the beckoning hearth they’d know

In midnight beds with blueprint, plan & scheme

You are the dream that other people dream.

Happy 4th of July. Let’s keep America that hoped-for thing 🙂

Ghost Road

There’s a story I read once in The Martian Chronicles that Ray Bradbury wrote. A short story set on Mars that deals with ghosts. The beauty of this collection of short stories is that none of them actually feed into each other, making them different than chapters in books, yet they do sort of build on each other. So, before this story happens Man from Earth has sent several groups of astronauts to Mars. In all their expeditions the men either go crazy or are murdered by the Martians. By the time the third group of explorer-astronauts arrive the Martians are extinct. I believe it was some sort of virus that wiped them out.
So, man conquers Mars, builds his own empire from the ruins of theirs. The Martians civilization centered around the beautiful flowing waters that ran through their cities. They had almost a Venetian look to them. By the time Man enters the scene the waters are dried up and gone. Mars is desolate. Soon, regular people from Earth come to settle on Mars because Earth is over-crowded and polluted.
Thus our story begins with a man driving on one of the ancient highways on Mars. He’s speeding through the desert late at night, not expecting to come across anyone else. I imagine in my mind Highway 50, which my friend Adam told me is called the Loneliest Road in America. The sort of highway you pick up phantom radio signals from 50 years ago when you’re driving in the middle of the night. I think that’s what Bradbury might have been inspired by.
So, this man driving along meets two other headlights coming toward him. Intrigued by this he pulls over and waits for them. The other pair continue toward him and as they approach he sees a vehicle completely alien to him. Out steps one of the extinct Martians. They are both confused by the sight of the other. In the distance the Man sees the ruins of a great city; the Martian sees it lit up and beautiful, waiting for his arrival and a celebration. They talk, the Man tells the Martian he must be a ghost because his kind no longer exist. The Martian tells the Man that cannot be possible, he remembers hearing ancient stories of men who came from another place.
An ordinary timeline is set on it’s ear. At the conclusion of the short story one is uncertain of who is actually the ghost. It’s one of those concepts that adds more wrinkles to your brain.
I remembered this story today as I was driving. My little sister in the passenger seat was playing DJ and she picked Dashboard Confessional’s “Hands Down” right as we started driving on Bayshore Boulevard. For almost four years I travelled down this Boulevard on an almost daily basis. This was a few years ago now, so almost every time I drive on it now I’m overcome with nostalgia. But, this time, the feeling was very much more intense. You see “Hands Down” was on one of the few CDs I had when I started driving, so it got a lot of airtime. As we rounded the curves this morning I almost caught sight of a green VW Jetta in my blind spot, windows down and sunroof open, housing a girl a few years younger, totally alive in that song. Or in front of me I could see a beat up BMW, hand out the driver’s side window bobbing in the air current with the song. I drove alongside the ghosts of myself. This girl, unsure of the next few years, but loving this drive, hugging the curves of the boulevard with her German-made, tight suspension. Did she come before me, or will she come after me? I feel like, had we three had our own roadside chat, we would dispute the timeline. I know 17 and 20 come before 23, but as I get older the things that were the truest about my 17 and 20 year old self become obvious to me as the things truest about myself now.
I feel as though I’m always writing the same story. One that leads back to where it started. But life sort of flows like that doesn’t it? It’s the sensation you get when you visit someplace totally new, that you’ve been there before; that gas station looks the same, that street corner echoes another. Pieces of the familiar spring up and surprise you, make you feel a little more secure. bring peace.