Thursday, May 5, 2011
Something Wicked This Way Comes: Review
Synopsis: Few American novels written this century have endured in the heart and memory as has Ray Bradbury's unparalleled literary classic Something Wicked This Way Comes. For those who still dream and remember, for those yet to experience the hypnotic power of its dark poetry, step inside. The show is about to begin.The carnival rolls in sometime after midnight, ushering in Halloween a week early. The shrill siren song of a calliope beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. In this season of dying, Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. And two boys will discover the secret of its smoke, mazes, and mirrors; two friends who will soon know all too well the heavy cost of wishes. . .and the stuff of nightmare. [synopsis from that posted on Visual Bookshelf]
Sometimes, for some books there is a particular time that is right. For me, for Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury--that time was when I was in my early teens and was knee-deep in my science fiction craze. At that time you couldn't feed me Asimov and Bradbury and Clarke and Ellison and all the rest fast enough. I was constantly haunting Mason's Rare & Used Books in my hometown, scanning the SF bookshelves for a new (to me) book to take home and devour. I read everything by Bradbury that I could get my hands on. It started with his short story collection Dandelion Wine and didn't stop until I had read everything I could buy from Mason's plus everything the downtown and school libraries had.
And when I brought Something Wicked home from the library, it was magic. I remember reading it straight through (I probably stayed up much too late using my little pen-flashlight under the covers) and shivering with delight over the evil carnival. I had always been a tom-boy so I ran with boys and climbed up and down out of the windows in my imagination. I thoroughly enjoyed the mystic fight between good and evil that was played out in those autumn days in small town USA.
Now...all that lead-up doesn't mean that I didn't enoy myself this time around--rereading Something Wicked for the Gothic Reading Challenge (among others). But it wasn't the same. This was a more sobered reading. I've got thirty years on that teenager sneak-reading at night and I've seen too much in the world. I still appreciate the battle between good and evil. But I more keenly understand Charles Halloway when he says towards the end of the book that the evil need and the freaks--with their fear and suffering that fueled the carnival--may be here, right now, in us. That Evil only has the power that we give it. And we have the power to stop or even prevent Evil, if we only will.
Rereading Bradbury is always a pleasure--if only to immerse myself in his writing. He writes about a time that was by-gone when I first read it and is even more so now. It is charming and comfortable to sink into a past when boys were not tied by wires (or invisible lines with wireless now) to electronic games and computers--when boys snuck out at night for the harmless fun of a late-night swim or just to do a little star-gazing. And his writing is so descriptive and right that it effortlessly places you exactly where and when he wants you to be. Four stars out of five.