In which I show off my patchy Ray Bradbury collection, gush a little over Dandelion Wine (and a lot over Zen in the Art of Writing), and admit I have DNF’d one of his books, despite the fact that I name him as one of my all-time favourite writers.
I adore his short story collections for being so varied, and having such a range of wonderful weirdness in them, and of course Fahrenheit 411 is spectacularly unsettling, but I think it was Dandelion Wine when I really fell in love with his writing. It’s so rich and immersive that you fall into this idyllic, small town America world with no effort at all. It’s one of those books where you can feel the heat of the summer, smell the dust and baking tarmac, where you know how the water feels when it hits you. But nothing is quite right, either – although not in a bad way. There are just odd inhabitants and strange occurrences, all told from a young boy’s perspective, so they seem to be quite the expected part of life in this mythical place, no different to the magic of fireflies.
Dandelion Wine isn’t a big book. It’s not packed with action, or full of suspense. But it’s full of beauty and magic and a very gentle weirdness, and to me it’s just very Bradbury. I haven’t read all his work, by any stretch of the imagination, but this is the book where I hear his voice clearest, the way I do in the essays in Zen in the Art of Writing (I gushed over that one in a blog here and a video here, so I won’t do it again. Much). And I think it’s a most wonderful voice indeed.
How about you, lovely people? Are you a Bradbury fan? Do you have any favourites of his you’d recommend to me? And have you DNF’d a favourite author? Or been put off by starting a new author on the wrong book? Let me know below!