Please see my post: New Book Typos & Questions. I'm still deciding which are my favourites, but "A Careful Man Dies" sticks with me. Very creepy.
Like most of you, I�d like to get back to the spirit of this board but, unfortunately, after having recently finished The Cat�s Pajamas, I had hoped to be able to post something on a more positive note. In light of the year that Bradbury has had � the death of his beloved wife, the hoo-hah over Michael Moore�s film � it might seem like I�m piling on with a negative review of this book. But we�re here to discuss Bradbury, aren�t we? Not just to praise him? I think I�ve posted my share of positive statements about Bradbury and his work so I take second place to no one when I declare my admiration of the man and his work. Sorry to say, I found his latest to be sub-par.
Now, having said that, that doesn�t mean I didn�t find some powerful work in this book. �Chrysalis,� which starts us out, is an interesting and perceptive piece, something completely unlike Bradbury at all. �We�ll Just Act Natural� is another good story that shows Bradbury stretching his gifts.
Perhaps because these stories come at the beginning of the book, my expectations were set high. These were two of his earlier stories and, though the publication of the dates of the stories might have influenced me, I found the earlier stories to be of a higher caliber than his more current later stories. �Where�s My Hat, What�s My Hurry� seemed almost cruel in light of Maggie�s recent death. Of course, it�s just a story, but it seems to hew too close to real events. I can�t imagine they every actually had this conversation � at least, I hope they never did � and I don�t see the point of including this story at all. Too many of the contemporary stories are begin with a banging door or ringing phone and consist mainly of two men bouncing their conversation back and forth. The strain shows, I�m afraid.
I�ve been on record that I believe Bradbury to be at his weakest when he�s writing poetry and the poem that ends this volume does nothing to change my mind. It seemed almost endless, with the rhymes and rhythm strained. He could have easily covered what he wanted to cover in 36, or even 24, lines. Instead, it just seems to drone on before coming to a wheezing conclusion. He�s said the same thing in a better manner in his essays.
Finally, though, and it's my delight to report this, there is one jewel that burns bright in my mind: �The Completeist.� I found this story to be very interesting to me as a writer. Bradbury mentions in introduction that he dictated this story to his daughter and I suspect, with his current physical condition, that this is the way he has to write. I wanted to know if he was still capable of his glorious power without the benefit of writing the story out on his typewriter first. Granted, his revision process is likely how it was but we know from his other writings that he recommends composition of the first draft in a white heat. The ending is quite startling and I was unprepared for it and my first reaction was that Bradbury was cheating or pulling an amateur�s stunt. But I went back to it several times and it grew on me and I learned Bradbury can still keep up with the best of them! Good for him.
Maybe, if I gave the stories I didn�t like the same chance I gave this story they�d grow on me to. But Bradbury is the victim of his own standards. He�s the one who set the bar high with The Martian Chronicles and Dandelion Wine and his earlier story collections. If some of his stories seem �Twilight Zonish,� it�s because the television show sought to imitate him and not the other way around. So he�s got quite a reputation to rest on. And though I continue to look forward to new work, and will continue to enjoy the old work, I�m afraid I�ll have to put this effort aside as one of his lesser accomplishments.
Now, let the rebuttals begin. . .
In some ways, there a 'minimalist' blame upon the editor...the person who selected the stories to begin with. He did pretty well with 'The Cat's Pajamas', but...
...let's say Ray churned out 200 stories in a 2 year span, and out of those 200, 180 were somewhat on the chopping block, 10 were nearly pretty good, and 3 were, well, outstanding...and Ray has 10,000 stories and fragments locked away in trunks and attics and under furniture in cardboard boxes and in envelopes stuffed away in closets, then a good editor should find a couple more volumes of great merit.
We might even have fun coming up with fine titles for future volumes of Ray's newly collected works....
[This message has been edited by Nard Kordell (edited 08-06-2004).]
I admittedly haven't cruised through all the messages in this forum, so please forgive me if this has been asked/answered. Is the cover art from Cat's Pajamas available as a print from any source? Thanks for any guidance/direction!
I've been on holiday in Spain for two weeks - returned yesterday to find my copy of Cat's PJs had arrived (along with Eller & Touponce's Life of Fiction and Aggelis' Conversations with RB). Looks like I'll be doing a lot of RB reading in the coming weeks!
ima_ailurophile, you could try contacting Wm Morrow (publishers of Cat's PJs - they might have some publicity posters of the cover art). Don't know what kind of quality you are looking for, but if you're desperate, I could email you a high-resolution scan of the cover art.
Just wanted to let everyone know that yesterday's edition of the "Chicago Tribune" had a most wonderful review of this book. For starters, the headline read,"Ray Bradbury's 'Cat's Pajamas' is a marvel." Here are a few more quotations from the article: "Thank goodness for 83-year-old Ray Bradbury. One of America's finest storytellers is back with "The Cat's Pajamas"... Each story is a marvel of simplicity and wondrous in emotion...Throughout, he masterfully engages the reader. Bradbury is especially good at knowing how much information to leave out--we are invited to employ our imaginations to fill in the blanks. He also can conjure glorious scenes with just a few descriptive sentences"... (by Jessie Milligan) This guy (girl?) really gets Ray. I was very happy to see this review!
Twas a short review, but a nice one. So here it is:
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
Section 5, Page 6
� Ray Bradbury's 'Cat's Pajamas' is a marvel �
By Jessie Milligan
Ft. Worth Star-Telegram
(reprinted in Chicago Tribune)
Thank goodness for 83 year old Ray Bradbury. One of America's finest storytellers is back with "The Cat's Pajamas" (Morrow, 256 pages, $24.95), a book of 21 short stories and one poem--most of them never before published--written between 1946 and this year.
'The Cat's Pajamas' includes science fiction, bittersweet nostalgia and horror. Each story is a marvel of simplicty and wondrous in its emotion.
In the nine pages of "We'll Just Act Natural," written in 1948, Bradbury breaks our hearts by sharing the poignancy of a woman waiting for an elusive visitor. "Hail to the Chief," written this year, will elicit laughter as U.S. senators gamble away the nation in an American Indian-run casino. And in the title story, written in 2003, Bradbury takes a cliche and expands it into an unlikely love story.
Throughtout, he masterfully engages the reader. Bradbury is especially good at knowing how much information to leave out--we are invited to employ our imaginations to fill in the blanks. He also can conjure glorious scenes with just a few descriptive sentences.
This collection is a true gift from a powerful writing talent.
"Two weeks in Spain, makes the year disappear..." -Gentle Giant
it's a cheesy tune by one of my favorite bands (from their later years) but from what I've read, the song is about pretty common holiday destination for British vacationers. I guess it's true, huh?
[This message has been edited by groon (edited 08-20-2004).]
Oh yes, the year - and the world - did disappear...except that I occasionally picked up a British newspaper to drag me back to what was going on in the world. (Not much. Headlines revealed that, back home, it had been raining heavily - while I sunned myself next to an Iberian pool.)
Spain is a popular British destination; one of the closest sun-drenched countries, and fairly cheap.
I got a lot of reading done beside that pool, including my first successful completion of From The Dust Returned. Yes, I know it's a book for autumn nights, but Bradbury can transport you anywhere!
Oh, and to to keep this on-topic, I have now started reading the Cat's PJ. Perversely, I started in the middle with the title story, which I found to be OK. I followed this with the Mafioso Cement-Mixing thingumajig; not a classic, and unfortunately a very familiar tale - Ray has done this time-travel-to-meet-literary-heroes story too often.
[This message has been edited by philnic (edited 08-20-2004).]
Concerning "The Cat's Pajamas":
Was this posted somewheres and I missed it?
Where did THIS come from???
After heavily criticising George Bush, I hope I am still welcome on this site but, can anybody tell me if any of the stories in THE CAT'S PAJAMAS are in the horror genre? If so, which ones?
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