Yesterday I bought a copy of Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury. It has been a while since I read anything by him, but some of my favourites include Fahrenheit 451, Dandelion Wine, and of course The Martian Chronicles. His stories are always well plotted, his understanding of, and empathy with, his characters are exemplary, and his imagination is spectacular. I don’t know the exact word to describe how he structures his stories; there are elements of fables, legends, and allegories in his stories.
But the thing that is really special is how he can craft a sentence to produce an image in your head, and how he can evoke moods and feelings with one of the most deft touches in this or any time. Here are a few random images.
“Sometimes you see a kite so high, so wise it almost knows the wind. It travels, then chooses to land in one spot and no other, and no matter how you yank, run this way or that,it will simply break its cord, seek its resting place and bring you, blood-mouthed, running.”
“Yet, this train’s whistle!
The wails of a lifetime were gathered in it from other nights in other slumbering years; the howl of moon-dreamed dogs, the seep of river-cold winds though January porch screens which stopped the blood, a thousand fire sirens weeping, or worse! the outgone shreds of breath, the protests of a billion people dead or dying, not wanting to be dead, their groans, their sighs, burst over the earth!”
This describes circus tents in the wind. “At last there was the clear-water sound of vast flags blowing.“
Muffled away in the prairie lands, the chuffing of an engine, the slow-following dragon-glide of a train.
This describes a calliope on a train. “Going away, away, the calliope pipes shimmered with star explosions, but no one sat at the high keyboard. The wind, sluicing ice-water air in the pipes, made the music.”
Finally, two boys running. ” Along the street below fled two shadows, two boys above them matching stride for stride. They softly printed the night air with treads.”
Ostensibly what Bradbury writes is prose, but I would argue that his imagery is clearly more poetry than prose. I’m enjoying the new book, and will let you know how I liked it.