Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine (New York: Bantam, 1976)
OK, so somehow I lived more than six decades as an English-speaking person who considers himself to be literate and I had not yet read any Ray Bradbury. I heard an interview in which a literature professor, who I think is with the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, said that he reads Dandelion Wine every year. I decided that it was time.
I guess I am just not in the same league with that literature professor. At least I didn’t have any sense that this was the greatest use of the language ever. And I didn’t emerge feeling that I had missed anything. I guess it is a sort of coming of age story. It is a description of a young boy’s summer of ’28. Bradbury is a good writer. And he does turn a good metaphor. But he is not a keen observer of culture. I can see why he made his fame in the field of science fiction. His regular fiction is certainly not rooted in the kind of experience that real people have.
You have to suspend all kinds of disbelief to connect with a young boy who has no sense of religious traditions and meanings. Who has to discover every fundamental truth about life and death without any sense of connection with previous generations and the great philosophies that have been shared from generation to generation.
He uses language well. He crafts elegant metaphors. And he creates characters who are unlike any people I have ever met.
The book did not plant in me any desire to read more Bradbury.
I guess I just don’t get it.