I don’t know how I’m just getting to this book now. This is one of those books that has always been on my radar but never ended up in my hand walking out of a store. I enjoyed Fahrenheit 451 back in high school and I try to read parts of From The Dust Returned every Halloween night… but for some reason, I’ve never read further into Bradbury’s canon. I think it may’ve been reading Johannes Cabal that pushed this novel a little more into my consciousness this particular October. The creepy carnival and all was, as the author pointed out, directly birthed from Something Wicked… and so reading this book has been on my mind.
I finally picked it up on a whim when I realized I was going to need another novel in order to get me to Halloween – just looking at it, you can tell Dark Harvest would only take a day or so. I wanted to get The October Country, actually, but they didn’t have it at Borders and so I found myself walking out with this instead. I started it right away, in the midst of the madness of tech rehearsals and at first, I was a little too out-of-it to get into it properly. Sad, but true. Perhaps its just the way that Bradbury writes with such a simplistically beautiful prose.. but I just wasn’t connecting right away. Maybe, too, the slightly antiquated (read: 50s/60s) speech of the boys bugged me. I forget that people actually used to say things like “Gee willikers” and they weren’t trying to be quaint.
Then something happened. Maybe it was the introduction of Will’s father – maybe something else entirely. That simplistic beauty sucked me in and I found myself tearing through the book. I wanted to be reading it when I was onstage, when I was at work, when I was in the shower, when I was doing anything BUT reading it. I found myself nearly crying on the subway during one passage where Will and his father begin to talk as something more than father and son but not quite man-to-man. I was concerned about Will, about Jim, about the town. I was terrified of The Illustrated Man, Mr. Dark – he is the epitome of everything one fears in that simplistically evil way.
Then suddenly the book was over. These boys were no longer boys and I remembered those days when I first grew up – a dark day in September, 9 years ago. Not quite the same, of course, bu the lessons were similar.
Due to the stress of the last week (opening a show and what-not), I have less to say than I would ordinarily be saying about such a magical book. But maybe it’s better that way.
Rating: 5 out of 5. The simplicity of this book is perhaps it’s greatest charm. This is a book for any boy who ever grew up a little too soon, who ever had that moment of realizing that his father was so much more than he had ever thought, and for any man who watched his son struggle with growing up. It is a book for fathers and sons who still believe in magic and goodness and, even when the dark is all around then, fight to maintain the light.