An endearing classic of childhood fancies and memories of an idyllic midwestern summer from the celebrated author of 'Farenheit 451'. "He stood at the open window in the dark, took a deep breath and exhaled. The street lights, like candles on a black cake, went out. He exhaled again and again and the stars began to vanish. Douglas smiled. He pointed a finger. There, and there. Now over here, and here! Yellow squares were cut in the dim morning earth as house lights winked slowly on. A sprinkle of windows came suddenly ...
An endearing classic of childhood fancies and memories of an idyllic midwestern summer from the celebrated author of 'Farenheit 451'. "He stood at the open window in the dark, took a deep breath and exhaled. The street lights, like candles on a black cake, went out. He exhaled again and again and the stars began to vanish. Douglas smiled. He pointed a finger. There, and there. Now over here, and here! Yellow squares were cut in the dim morning earth as house lights winked slowly on. A sprinkle of windows came suddenly alight miles off in dawn country. 'Everyone yawn. Everyone up.'" In the backwaters of Illinois, Douglas Spaulding's grandfather makes an intoxicating brew from harvested dandelions. 'Dandelion Wine' is a quirky, breathtaking coming-of-age story from one of science fiction's greatest writers. Distilling his experiences into "Rites & Ceremonies" and "Discoveries & Revelations", the young Spaulding wistfully ponders over magical tennis shoes, and machines for every purpose from time travel to happiness and silent travel.Based upon Bradbury's own experiences growing up in Waukegan in the 1920s, 'Dandelion Wine' is a heady mixture of fond memory, forgiveness, magic, the imagination and above all, of summers that seemed to go on forever.
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Aug 1, 2009
Discovering you are alive
I have to admit, I have never read anything by Ray Bradbury as I am not a huge sci-fi fan. I found this book at my local used bookstore for a quarter and my voice said "well, great chance to check him out". Afterall, he is somewhat well-known. I am genuinely happy I found the time to read this profound tale. Mr. Bradbury's prologue was just as an enjoyable read as the rest of the book. He shares a little of his writing process and how the characters, locations and events are a somewhat biographical reflection of the memories of his boyhood.
The story is set in the summer of 1928 in Green Town, Illinois and begins with 12 year old Douglas Spaulding on a grape hunting venture with his younger brother Tom and their father. Doug discovers more than grapes during this excursion - he discovers he is alive. This realization changes the way he perceives everything around him.
I'm really alive! he thought. I never knew it before, or if I did I don't remember. He yelled it loud but silent, a dozen times. Think of it, think of it! Twelve years old and only now! Now discovering this rare timepiece, this clock goldbright and guaranteed to run threescore and ten, left under a tree and found while wrestling.
The summer is broken down into individual events with each chapter essentially it's own short story. Douglas and his brother helping in the collecting of dandelions with Grandfather to make the next year's supply of dandelion wine, the discovery of a time machine right under their noses, Leo Aufmann's futile attemps to build a happiness machine, the murders of the Lonely One, the heartache of a best friend leaving and trying to make time stand still for those few last hours, Miss Fern's and Miss Roberta's antics on the Green Machine, discovering how a new pair of tennis shoes can make you fly - and so much more!
In an attempt to keep the summer alive, Douglas and his brother keep a notebook and using the trusty Ticonderoga Number 2, note all new discoveries (such as Grandpa and Dad not knowing everything in the world) and keep track of how many times the they do the same things as every other summer (like getting slivers in your feet). The notebook and the dandelion wine are reflections of the summer. This is a quiet book written in such a way that the ordinary becomes magical.
It is difficult to summarize this book. It is so simple yet, it is impossible to sum it up neatly without doing a great disservice to the other parts of the book that would be neglected. I will say that I had a few bouts of watery eyes. Not from an actual sad element in the story. I became so nostalgic while reading this (and still am) that I missed my childhood. Then I missed my daughter's childhood. Yet, the memories are grand and make my heart happy.
Jul 2, 2009
The first two chapters take some perseverence to get through but after that it is a charming and insightful story of a young boy growing up in a small community in the 1920s. YThe descriptove prose takes you right into the lives and times of the charaters.
Apr 3, 2007
Magical Illinois Summer
In the midst of his early science fiction masterpieces (Farenheit 451, Martian Chronicles, etc), Bradbuy composed this prose love poem to his childhood in small town Illinois. I first read this feeling very far away from my own Illinois home having moved away to Canada in sixth grade and he made me feel both homesick and thoroughly grounded on the same page.
Bradbury weaves together simple rites of passage (the exhilaration of the first new sneakers of summer), with the mysteries of elders' sorrows: the story of a young man first starting out his adult life falling deeply in love with a woman in her eighties and their hoping that they'd have better timing in their next round of lives particularly stands out.
No one captures the ping of the sneaker on the blacktop, or the hair raising on the back of the neck walking home on a spooky night from a carnival better that Bradbury. He pioneers an American magical realism that authors like Alice Hoffman didn't really take up until Isabelle Allende and Gabriel Garcia Marquez changed the broader landscape of 20th century litrature. Bradbury's style is much more subtle, an elegaic prose that owes as much to Thomas Wolfe (Look Homeward Angel), Edgar Lee Masters (Spoon River Anthology), and Thortnton Wilder (Our Town) as it does the dimestore mysteries and sci fi magazines that inspired his earliest work.
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