Posts Tagged ‘nightmares’

Something Wicked This Way Comes

We need to talk about how much I love Ray Bradbury.

He’s just…I don’t know. He’s special, somehow. There’s something about him and his writing that just makes me feel things. I don’t even know how to put those feelings into words, really. I might try, but that runs the risk of this just turning into less of a “review” and more of a “Ray Bradbury is AMAZING” post. But I suppose there’s nothing wrong with that.

Basically, when I read most Ray Bradbury books, I feel like he’s my grandpa. I imagine him sitting in an old rocking chair, wearing a green terrycloth robe and brown slippers. I’m sitting at his feet, threading his shag carpet (because grandparents’ houses all have shag carpet, right?) and listening to him tell stories. All day. Because he’s telling me stories that help me understand life and make me confront tough ideas, but in a way that makes me feel safe.

Whenever I’m especially aware of my own mortality and feeling really freaked out about that, or whenever I suddenly realize “OH MY GOD, I’M NOT A KID ANYMORE, WHAT IS THIS?!?!?!”, I read Bradbury. It helps, somehow. It also (if I’m reading any of the Greentown stuff) makes me feel like I’m a 12-year-old boy. This is oddly comforting.

Anyway, Something Wicked This Way Comes was another make-me-feel-better-about-getting-older-and-my-eventual-and-inevitable-death book. It’s about two 13-year-old boys, Jim Nightshade and Will Halloway, who wind up pitted against the evil carnival that comes to town, complete with a carousel that can either add or subtract years from your life.

The idea of aging–and dying–is present throughout the whole book. Jim, more melancholy than his best friend, wonders what it’s like to be older. He wants to skip the awkward teenage years, it seems. Meanwhile, Will’s father (to me anyway) watches his son and his friend get to be boys and misses his own youth.

I related the most to the father, actually. Sometimes I have these moments where I’m suddenly aware that I’m, basically, an adult. It’s almost like some past version of me, some past consciousness, suddenly wakes up and is like, “Ummm…what’s with all the responsibility? What is this?!” These moments are always very brief, but for a few seconds it’s almost like I’m living a nightmare. Like suddenly I’m trapped in this adult body and I can’t do the things I used to do. I feel like that’s what Mr. Halloway is going through during the whole book. He watches his son and realizes that he isn’t a boy anymore. And it’s almost like it feels like a nightmare.

This horror, I suppose, is also connected with the carousel. Imagine being 12 or 13 and suddenly, you’re in an adult’s body. Horrifying, I think. Also, that’s sort of what growing up feels like at times.

So what I liked most about the book was watching Mr. Halloway come to terms with himself and, eventually, accept his age. He fights tooth and nail to save Jim and Will from aging on the carousel and, in the process, discovers a way to stop himself from aging, at least inwardly.

What I love about Bradbury is how simple his metaphors are. It’s incredibly easy and fun to get at the greater, more important meaning behind the story. Threaded through the scary story that kept me reading all day was something I needed to learn. But Bradbury didn’t just tell me what he wanted to teach me. He told me the story and let me figure it out for myself. Which somehow made the lesson that much truer.

What’s the lesson, you ask?

I could tell you. But I think instead you’ll have to read Something Wicked This Way Comes and decide for yourself. I wouldn’t want to spoil the fun for anyone else.

Rating: *****
But really, I’ll probably give five stars to everything Bradbury writes. It should really just be implied.

Oh, also, for several years, this song has been stuck in my head every time I read a book by Ray Bradbury. It really captures the, um, love, some of us fangirls have for him.
*Disclaimer: Contains swearing and is DEFINITELY NSFW

It comforts me to know that other people love him as much (well, more, I suppose) than I do. Except, you know, I think of him as my grandpa so, the whole, you know, sleeping with him thing is totally off the table.

 

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