Just wondering if anyone has any observations concerning Bradbury's new release (which has had me waiting for years now; I think I had it pre-ordered from my bookstore for two years).
So . . . From the Dust Returned. Comments?
It's on my nightstand. I picked it up last week but it's next on my list. The Charles Addams cover is gorgeous.
I've been on pins and needles waiting for this book, and I'm very happy to report that it was well worth the wait. I wrote and published a review of it for a local paper, and although I won't include the whole thing here, one of my comments was that "From the Dust Returned" successfully evokes the sense of wonder we all felt so often when we were little, but is so rare and cherished now. It succeeds maginificently as a warm celebration of Halloween, and, of course, of imagination in general. The lineage of the Elliotts is the history of our own imaginative heritage.
I, too had been waiting for Bradbury's new book. My hands itched to turn the first page when I had read the review in our local paper, but I was afraid it would be beyond my cost. Being without a job has its costs, you see. A fairy Grandmother, however, was kind enough to buy me "From The Dust Returned", however, and I haven't put it down since.
I said it when I had read "Homecoming" and I say it again...
Timothy's my hero!!!!
I literally just finished the book. . .actually, 14 minutes ago. Anyone who harbors their infinite child, remembers halloween that smell like orange, blowing leaves. . .I loved it (particularly the creepy chapter 12 "on the orient north"). All the "creatures" drip with humanity, though. It was phenomenal. I think I'll go read it again.
FROM THE DUST RETURNED is Bradbury at the absolute peak of his form. I just finished it today, and it rivals DANDELION WINE and SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES as "best Bradbury novel" in my opinion... really great stuff; you feel the electricity from the very start.
I also enjoyed the book. However, I was overwelmed with Deja Vu, as some of the stories had been published in other colections (The April Witch, Uncle Elinar, and Homecoming.) A Great Read, RB's best work in ten years.
I spread that book out over three chilly evenings, which was horribly hard for me to do. I could have just read it all in one sitting, but then I would have finished it too quickly. Instead, I curled up with a cup of several hot chocolate and slowly but surely worked my way to the end. It was a cozy book, in my opinion.
Mr. Bradbury's new novel From the Dust Returned offers enjoyment even before the first word is read. From the uniquely textured cover illustrated masterfully (years ago) by Charles Addams, to the thick, roughly edged pages upon which Mr. Bradbury's images eventually come to life, as well as the selection for the style of print, all speaks of classic "stuff!"
His life's love of books is so evident in this publication. It is a text to be "felt" before the first page is opened, "smelled" as a book of old, "heard" as each page turns, and if one so chose - it probably would even taste exquisite! (In every written word throughout his illustrious career, Mr. Bradbury has honored and rescued those magnificent "Exiles!" This book seems to take it to the limit.)
A person without sight should listen to an audio version of FTDR while holding a copy of the text in his or her hands. The author would speak to this person through far more than words. The message would be loud, clear, and overflowing with sights only Mr. Ray Bradbury is capable of conjuring up.
In the case of From the Dust Returned, for those who have long enjoyed the author's works, "you can indeed judge this book by its cover." As for the story within (55 years in the making), his words have always been able to "speak" for themselves. However, be sure to take your time and enjoy what Mr. Bradbury is saying - even before you get to page one.....
[This message has been edited by fjpalumbo (edited 01-02-2002).]
If my comments on this subject don't turn into a novel, they may at least come out short story length, so I must content myself with parceling out my musings. I'll start by saying that anyone experienced in attempting any creative endeavor, whether or not it involved writing, can appreciate the problems associated with combining a group of separate, even if related, short stories into a novel and admire the effort of doing so. It is as with any addition, repair, or restoration of part of a house or piece of furniture. For instance, only part of a wall really needs painting, or only part of a floor or piece of furniture needs refinishing, but you must "fix" parts that didn't need fixing or were all right in the first place in order for the whole to "blend." The "fixed" parts may end up different, either better or not as good, as the originals. (This is the point at which some grouch comes in and says "you shouldn't have messed with it.") Even if you yourself are not entirely happy with every aspect of every element, without them you would not have a completed and cohesive whole--just parts, some usable, some not. Bradbury has said he finds rewriting a cold process, and must re-emotionalize the story. Life is a tradeoff. So is this book. Also, I'll be the first to admit that on first reading the "family" stories I felt they were part of a larger work that only Ray Bradbury could write. Even as I said, and reiterated for years, that I wished he'd write it, I experienced tremors of trepidation about a full-length novel sustaining the magic so inherent in these stories. My thoughts on how well the novel succeeds read kind of like "Goldilocks and the Three Bears." I'm Goldilocks coming in to say this is too large, that too small, another juuuust right. Now the bears may like it and invite me to stay for porridge, or they may not and decide to have me as a tasty main course instead. Either way, I feel compelled to say all that is to follow.
[This message has been edited by dandelion (edited 01-26-2002).]
Secondly, a caveat. The work under consideration here is a novel, NOT a short story collection! Both for those who have *not* read these stories in their previous form(s) and may think this the official or only version, and for those who *have* and expect the stories to drop into place as you are used to seeing them, either way, forewarned is forarmed. Of course, these stories were never set in stone. They underwent changes in transition from their magazine versions to their book-collection versions, then were revised again in the definitive work "The Stories of Ray Bradbury." I am all for rewriting. A great writer once said, "Most of writing is rewriting." I don't know which great writer, but a wise one. Changes from short story into novel form in "Dandelion Wine" and "The Martian Chronicles" were for the most part relatively minor. Comparing the "Stories Of" to earlier collected versions, in some places the revisions improved upon the originals, and overall the changes mostly did not harm their integrity. There are also (huge deep breath here) different words in which to tell the same story. Obviously, works must be translated into different languages, and the greater the work is considered to be, the more languages in which it will appear. This is not to quibble with the concept of adaptations, retellings, updates, or reinterpretations in general. Even the Bible has been adapted for movies. That said, there is always the point where any adaptation "crosses the line." For instance, filming "Little Women" is fine; I think I've seen every movie of it ever made, and they all added to my appreciation of the basic story at its core. Making a movie of "Little Women," though, then rewriting the book to match the screenplay, crosses the line. If you think I'm making this up, check it out, it was done for the Winona Ryder version a few years ago. The rewritten version contains much simpler language and far fewer words than Alcott's original and is none the better for it; this point will come up later. Or Michael Jackson's face, for instance. Sure, what he started out with was not perfect, and his first several surgeries really were improvements. But at what point does enough become enough is a very important question to consider with literature or plastic surgery. That being said, let me share a quote from Ray Bradbury's book "Yestermorrow: Obvious Answers to Impossible Futures." In it he speaks of his book "Fahrenheit 451," which, like the stories in "From the Dust Returned," was written hastily, then later expanded to novel length, and brilliantly so. As he has often pointed out, the first draft of "Fahrenheit 451" was written in nine days, and each first draft of most of his stories finished in five days. "Something Wicked This Way Comes" also began life as a short story. In the case of F451, the novel was a vast improvement on the original story, and a student of writing would do well to obtain and study both. "The Renaissance Prince and the Baptist Martian" in "Yestermorrow" recounts Bradbury's friendship with famous art critic Bernard Berenson, who told him he was fascinated with the ending of F451 of people memorizing and becoming books, "'But, I've been thinking.... You could do a sequel to your novel, in which the Book People, at a later date and time, when the Burners vanish and the world is safe from fire--when the Book People are called in to recite their memorized books and remember them all wrong.' 'My God,' I said. 'I never thought of that.' 'Think of it!' cried Berenson, eyes flashing. '_War and Peace_ told by an idiot. _Crime and Punishment_ remembered by a fool. Machiavelli's _The Prince_ mouthed by a numskull. _Moby Dick_ recited by an alcoholic cripple. Oh, the variations are many! You could do a chapter on each book and how it was boned, marrowed, broken, collapsed in ruins and put back together by morons or well-meaning pedants who remember their own interpretation of the soaring lines. _Hamlet_ run to earth by a harebrain. _Othello_ bleached into boredom by a retired librarian, long gone in senility. What fun, what variations, what satire. Write it down!' I did. It was a superb idea. But it has lain in my files for some 25 years now. I didn't dare say to Berenson, and perhaps even to myself, that it would take a genius who had read, digested, and completely understood the entire body of American and English literature to plow into and create a book like that. Envy the idea? God, yes. But do it? The ghosts of Moliere, Pope, Swift, and Chesterton, plus Shaw, just might bring it off." An assignment for some future team of literary geniuses, perhaps, but meanwhile I leave it here as food for thought. The point at which "From the Dust Returned" crosses the line is, I feel, in cuts and changes, not additions, as explained below.
[This message has been edited by dandelion (edited 01-26-2002).]
A few more thoughts I want to leave with you, or at least to get them down, as I may want to return to them in my critique. Someone once asked Ernest Hemingway the hardest thing about writing and he said, "Getting the words right." Can't find the quote to confirm it, but I am pretty sure about that. I would add that the hardest thing in a novel is blending all the right parts together in the right order. This applies to even non-fictional and semi-fictional novels (that is, those based entirely or partially on actual events) but especially to fictional novels which are entirely the product of an author's imagination. You start out with all these great things just crying out to be parts of a whole, but find one part contradictory to another part, or gaps seemingly impossible to bridge, where you have to manufacture parts from thin air. In the end, seemingly great parts will be left over as unusable, while parts left in as seemingly necessary may not be the greatest. Many novelists have complained of movie treatments ruining their work, but I wonder how many experience the frustration of seeing a screenwriter's improvements on their work and thinking, "Why didn't I write the BOOK like that?" Things are gained and lost in translation and rarely is perfection achieved in any form.
There seems to be some disagreement here--who did the cover, Charles Adams or Joseph Mugnaini? Or are there two versions out there?
The copy I have was by Charles Adams, at least that's what it says in the lower right corner. But there may be other versions of it, I'm not sure.
The cover art work on FTDR is indeed from an original Charles Addams painting. It dates back over 50 years when Mr. Bradbury and Mr. Addams had intended to corroborate on an illustrated novel. (Go to At Home "video clips" in this site for Mr. Bradbury's own words on this topic!) Although Mr. Bradbury was a great friend and fan of Joseph Mugnaini, the cover is from an Addams' concept when the two first became acquainted.
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