Matt’s Reviews: Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

I have been spending time in the stacks of my local library and my book shelves revisiting some of the beloved books from my youth.  With so many new tales being released every day, it may seem like a waste to re-read old books.  Let me assure you it is not.  If you are an old fart like me, or it’s just been a decade (or two or three or four…) since you read some of these tomes, read them again.  There is different depths, different emphases, different messages because they are being read by a different reader.  You are new and will be able to get something new.

 

  • Publisher:                Bantam Pathfinder
  • Publication Date:   1969
  • Copyright Date:      1951
  • Pages:                      184
  • Author:                   Ray Bradbury
  • ISBN: The book I found in my bookcase predated the common use of the ISBN, but more recent ones are…
    • ISBN13:               9780553277531
    • ISBN10:               0553277537

I came across this 50+ year old paperback in my book case (if you look closely, you can see the 75 cent price on the cover image).  Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury is a book I read decades ago.  It came across as an interesting book about a small town summer, but it did not stick with me. This time it stuck and sunk in and is still rippling around inside. This is one of the best books I have read in some time. I think it takes a while and a bit of life lived to really appreciate this exploration of childhood and age and everything in between. You can tell Bradbury draws on his own childhood and his own community and brings it to life for all of us with his own twists on reality.

This is the story of 12 year old Douglas Spaulding, his ten year old brother, Tom, and the summer of 1928 in Green Town, Illinois. It is really several tales of many different people in the community. It speaks of random happenings and the difference between the exuberance and energy of childhood and the depths of experience and feelings of age. Bradbury is a master story teller and he moves from one story to another tied together with the brothers either directly or indirectly. It is very much about discovering life and discovering being alive and celebrating life, even when ‘the lonely one’ comes to take a life (or two or three…).

This is a little bit science fiction (in the happiness machine) and a little bit horror (with the Lonely One), but mostly there is a lot of fantasy throughout the book. Not the high fantasy of wizards and magic. It is the fantasy of childhood, of knowing the truths of the world that the adults just can’t quite fathom, or just get plain wrong. It is being able to travel through time on the words of an ancient story teller. It is knowing that the Lonely One will be back and being enthused that there is still danger and potential horror, and the secure knowledge that it can never happen to you…maybe. It is knowing that the arcade fortune telling machine is really an ancient princess prophet, trapped in wax. It is realizing that you are alive and you have things to do that you’ve always done and new things to learn and realize. It is about growing up, and not growing up.

This book is a celebration of life. A celebration of childhood and childhood mysteries and discoveries. It is also a celebration of old age and experience, and those times between the two. Connections and disconnections. People and dandelions. Putting away the summer in little bottles and bringing them out to relive a little in the depths of winter. Our lives, our memories, our times, our families and our communities. They are all stored away and we can choose to bring them out from time to time and savor them on our tongues like a few drops of Dandelion Wine.

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Nonbinary, cis, straight, queer, PhD, GED, human, microbe, AI. Labels don’t matter when you’re trying to save the world…and maybe make a little money.
Plastivore by Matt Truxaw
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