Friday, October 1, 2010

Farewell Summer - Book Review

It only seems appropriate that I finish reading Ray Bradbury's Farewell Summer at the end of summer; I often read his work during the season for which it's written: Dandelion Wine in Summer, The Halloween Tree and Something Wicked This Way Comes and, well, just about every other work of his in Autumn. But this book is his latest novel length work and as a fan and a stickler for completeness it's necessary that I read it and though there were parts of it where Bradbury's old genius shone through and I enjoyed it, overall it wasn't a very rewarding experience. For fans only, I'd have to regretfully say.

Dandelion Wine is my favorite work of Bradbury's and I think his preface to the book is the finest piece of writing you could ever hope to come across. It didn't demand a sequel but Bradbury, in his Afterword, insisted it did. I won't get into an argument with him but, instead, leave the two books as evidence that I'm right. Farewell Summer retreads much of Dandelion Wine and while it's held together by a single narrative event - a "war" between Douglas and his friends against the old codgers of the town with a very special lesson learned by all at the end - and Dandelion Wine is a string of related incidents held together by a single theme, Summer is the much slighter work of the two. And the final scene with Douglas in a conversation with, uh, a part of his male anatomy, well, talk about TMI. C'mon, Ray. You've done better. You can do better.

(Or maybe not. Bradbury, like most artists, has his greatest work behind him. It's not reasonable to expect him to produce art the same caliber of which he created in his relative youth. It's not an age thing, really. It's just that he's had his say. Now he's saying it all over again. It's enough that he's alive and still a delight to have around and to have the old works to enjoy. I don't need anything new.)

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