Book Review – Quicker than the Eye

Quicker than the Eye by Ray Bradbury

It must be hugely gratifying to be publishing yet another book of your short fiction at the age of 76. Not many folks have that distinction, but Ray Bradbury is one of them. This book is a compilation of some of his short fiction written in the early to mid-1990’s. Bradbury’s quintessential style is there, and if you’re a fan of Bradbury like I am, you’ll want to have this in your collection.

That being said, the stories pale compared to some of his earlier works. Oftentimes  there are ideas, sparks and pieces of a story that have been written down and smoothed over without a clearly defined ending or point. They are classic Bradburian characters, but their situations and therefore their reactions are often blurred or not brought to closure. Part of this is Bradbury’s particular style, oftentimes drawing back from tying everything up neatly with a bow at the end of the story and leaving the reader in a bit of the angst of the protagonist or other characters. But more often in this collection, it more often feels just unfinished.

The idea of the spirits of Laurel & Hardy restlessly moving the spirit of an aged piano up a steep flight of Los Angeles steps is enchanting, but the resolution is unfulfilling and ill-defined. His imagining of the condition today of Dorian Gray’s portrait is rushed. His submarine-commander-psychologist is flat-out confusing.

There are also glimpses of true beauty in this collection. His encounter at mid-life with an old high-school chum – famed in his youth for his dancing prowess – is lovingly written. His admiration of Edgar Allen Poe shines out amidst the shadows in “The Finnegan”. Our encounter with an aged couple working out their marital differences in their twilight years is humorous and touching. He even revisits one of his favorite on-again-off-again characters – himself as a young boy, and is still paying tribute to the locale of his youth, Green Town. If you’re well-versed in Bradbury’s works, there will be wonderful moments of near deja-vu.

Most of the time, I wish that he had just taken a wee bit more time with many of the stories. A bit more plot development. A bit more of a conclusion. A bit more clarification. Still, at the end of the day, there’s a deep appreciation for the man who wove stories to entrance and delight and shiver his readers for over six decades.

One Response to “Book Review – Quicker than the Eye”

  1. Book Review – Long After Midnight | Living Apologetics Says:

    […] my recent review of another of Bradbury’s collections was a bit less than enthusiastic, I’m thrilled to […]

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