Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Something Wicked This Way ComesSomething Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ages and ages ago, I remember standing in a book store and reading the opening paragraph of this novel. It begins thus:

First of all, it was October, a rare month for boys. Not that all months aren't rare. But there be good and bad, as the pirates say. Take September, a bad month: school begins. Consider August, a good month: school hasn't begun yet. July, well, July's really fine: there's no chance in the world for school June, no doubting it, June's best of all, for the school doors spring wide and September's a billion years away.

And I loved it. I loved it so much that I remembered it quite well through the years, often quoting it as best I could, having only read it that one time in a book store. Sure, I eventually picked up my own copy, I was a Bradbury fan from a young age, I even wrote to him -- and he wrote back! -- when I was still a kid. But somehow, I never read this novel.

Sure, I picked it up at least once intending to read it, but it was the wrong time. You know when you start something and it doesn't grab you. And I knew this book should grab me. So I put it down and I waited. (While finally reading this book, I found my original receipt. It was a simple receipt without so much as the store's name upon it, but there was the purchase date: 28.09.91. So it's taken me 26 years to read this book and it was well worth the wait.)

I always strive to read something appropriate for the month of October and this was quite perfect - an evil carnival arrives in a small town toward the end of the very same month. Two boys yearning for life and an old man yearning to be young. At my age, I can now relate to both vantage points. I'll never forget the words my grandfather once told me a little more than a decade ago, "I don't know how I got so old. I look in the mirror and I don't recognize myself." I'm starting to feel the same way.

But that opening paragraph still moves me as well. With crystal clarity, I can recall thinking that summer would never end once school let out in June. Autumn seemed a million miles away. A million miles...

But the book? What about the book? Well, you should read it. There are enough other reviews on Goodreads that can give you more details or further insight. For me, this book was many things, but most of them are, as you can already see, personal memories and associations that most likely won't interest you. So read the book. You may find it dated, you may find it boring, or maybe, just maybe you'll take a magical ride into a bygone era that will leave you wondering, "Would I have boarded that carousel? The one that could turn time forward or backward. Would I be willing to surrender my soul to be young again?"

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