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The Stories of Ray Bradbury Vol 2
Ray Bradbury

" Grandma! I remember her birth. Wait, you say, no man remembers his own grandma’s birth. But, yes, we remember the day she was born. For we, her grandchildren, slapped her to life. Timothy, Agatha and I, Tom, raised up our hands and brought them down in a huge crack! We shook together the bits and pieces, parts and samples, textures and tastes, humours and distillations that would move her compass needle north to cool us, south to warm and comfort us, east and west to travel round the endless world, glide her eyes to know us…"

Reviewed by Yael Unterman

For those who, like myself, have never read any Bradbury before, this volume serves as an excellent introduction. The first few stories seem a little slow, but if you persevere you may find yourself increasingly impressed by the author’s poetic sensibility and his facility for creating believable, diverse characters struggling their way through bizarre events. While the occasional story falls a little flat, for the most part they do not disappoint, with that mandatory thrill of horror or surprise at the wrap-up giving the satisfying experience of closure that some authors withhold. 

Bradbury asks the delicious “what if?” questions in which science fiction writers excel: - What if microbes completely took over a person? What would they do? (Like many of his fellows, Bradbury is fascinated by the take-over of humans by alien essences). The answer, as articulated by the microbe-vanquished victim – 

I like school. All the kids. I want to play with them and wrestle with them and spit on them and play with the girls’ pigtails and shake the teacher’s hand, and rub my hands on all the cloaks in the cloakroom…
What would a world look like where people lived out their entire lives in only eight days? The author tells us: 
Birth was quick as a knife. Childhood was over in a flash. Adolescence was a sheet of lightning.
How would parents react if their baby was born as a blue pyramid, in another dimension? 
It was his child, no matter what. He shuddered. No matter how horrible it looked, it was his first child.

Scattered in between the sci-fi stories are modest yet sparklingly quirky gems which zoom in on one aspect of culture or one specific sector; for example, Irishmen who run races to see who can make it out of the cinema the moment the film ends; or the enormously fat woman who marries a man whose dream is to tattoo her from head to foot – and now, the project finished, is suffering a crisis in her marital bliss. Bradbury plays humorously with these and other outlandish scenarios. 

But he also manages to deeply move the reader without inserting the literary of equivalent of mawkish Hollywood music – a challenge for any author. I must admit that I Sing the Body Electric, about three orphaned children looked after by an “electric grandmother,” left me teary-eyed and awed by its existential punch, when they call her back in their old age: 

And we have sent for someone else. The three of us have called: Grandma! You said you’d come back when we had need. We are surprised by our age, by time. We are old. We need. And in three rooms of a summer house very late in time, three old children rise up, crying out in their heads: We loved you! We love you!

Yael Unterman grew up in the UK and now resides in Jerusalem. She is a writer, lecturer, creative educator and life coach. She has published poems, academic articles, journalistic pieces, book reviews and short stories (www.the-phone-book.com). She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Bar-Ilan University, Israel.



Publication Date:1981

Paperback/Hardback? Paperback

First collection?: No

Author bio: Ray Bradbury (1920-present) is one of America’s finest living writers, specializing in science fiction and horror. He is best known for The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451.

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