Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury

Knowing Bradbury only from "Fahrenheit 451," I was very surprised by this lyrical tale. Set in an indeterminate time (which feels like the '40s or '50s), this novel of love and death and youth and age takes place around the central focus of a traveling carnival, and two young boys named Jim and Will. The plot is not all that important, because the book reads like prose poetry. For example: "The train skimmed on softly, slithering, black pennants fluttering, black confetti lost on its own sick-sweet candy wind, down the hill, with the boys pursuing, the air so cold they ate ice cream with every breath." The entire book is like that, which makes is rather slow-going. Plot is obscured in language, rather than revealed by it. Even though it could be classified as horror and as such, has a properly climactic ending, its clear that the point isn't what happens at the end, but how we get there. Personally, I prefer a bit more balance between language and plot, so this book was difficult for me. I'm glad I read it, though, for it's clear that Bradbury is one of those people with the incomparable, magical gift of manipulating language, folding it into exactly what he wants.


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