Every time I return to Bradbury it's a treat and I wonder why it took me so long to pick him up again. Well, it's nice to know the future holds more rEvery time I return to Bradbury it's a treat and I wonder why it took me so long to pick him up again. Well, it's nice to know the future holds more returns to Bradbury, so I'll probably keep reading him at the same pace.
Zen in the Art of Writing is more fun than anything else, which I think is central to Bradbury's point: if writing isn't in some way fun, then we might wanna reconsider our wish to write. Obviously this doesn't mean what you write must be fun, buoyant and void of difficulty - Bradbury's own work often probes the darkest aspects of humanity. But his essays show that you don't have to be depressed or depressing to write about difficulty. Writing should stem from lived experience, which (hopefully) contains the full range of emotion and endless opportunity for thought, inquiry and hypothesis. That Bradbury references his own stories and talks about his own 'successes' so much seems less personal hubris than it is talking about what he knows, rooting what he's talking about in his own lived experience. If there's ego there (and when isn't ego identifiable in an artist?), it is largely of a healthy variety.
Certainly this book has its short-comings. "Investing Dimes: Fahrenheit 451" was interesting, but felt shallower than many of the others. Its best moment was this: "Father had to choose between finishing a story or playing with the girls. I chose to play, of course, which endangered the family income." This sentence plays right into the overall point of this essay collection: life and love are most important, and good stories stem from both of those things.
"Just This Side of Byzantium: Dandelion Wine" was perhaps the least interesting essay for me. I don't think it said very much. Thankfully, it was short.
The last section of poems was nice and fun, but I wouldn't consider any of those poems really great poetry. But that seems hardly the point and it's a minor, even snooty, thing for me to even mention. The poems are fun and encouraging; for some people, even sappy (the whole collection has been criticized as such), but I find it a nice way to round out his point.
Bradbury's advice to writers is not what many are looking for. We often want lists & formulas, calculable, measurable, specific strategies to success. Bradbury's strategy is more philosophy than how-to guide. There's no tried and true method to success. He isn't really talking about the technical aspects of writing, he's talking about a lifestyle that cultivates creativity and authenticity. If you have the lifestyle the technical skill will come, the stories will come. It's encouraging stuff and a healthy reminder that writing should be fun, personal and done with love....more
The short answer: Baudelaire is fine, but he never really latched on to me and drove me to keep reading. I liked him, but don't feel much need to retuThe short answer: Baudelaire is fine, but he never really latched on to me and drove me to keep reading. I liked him, but don't feel much need to return to him. Maybe it was the translation? ...more
The latter half of this collection impressed me more than the first half, but overall this collection left me rather mystified and uncertain about whaThe latter half of this collection impressed me more than the first half, but overall this collection left me rather mystified and uncertain about what Hughes was getting at here. There were impressive moments that make me want to revisit some of these poems - I'm sure there's something happening here, I just haven't quite caught the vision yet. This is not the Hughes collection I would read first, but for those already familiar to Hughes and who like him, you should get to this one eventually....more
Gustave Doré is pretty awesome. Few artists' works embed themselves in my mind the way Doré's do. I think seeing his illustrations to works like ParadGustave Doré is pretty awesome. Few artists' works embed themselves in my mind the way Doré's do. I think seeing his illustrations to works like Paradise Lost, Don Quixote, and The Divine Comedy have excited me to eventually read those stories more than all the talk surrounding these works that I've heard in my English classes. That might mean I'm just a lazy reader, or it might have something to do with the long tradition of illustrations accompanying literary works. These days, it feels to me like such a fusion of the arts is less encouraged, even looked down upon. "Serious" literature doesn't bother with pictures, but is all wrapped up in the magnificence of language. Should I blame the modernists who brought us formalism for that? Probably not. In any case, it seems like outside of the (now overly popular and rather bloated) graphic novel, and the (unfairly overlooked) picture & pop-up book, that pictures have been snubbed out of literature. Some might say it's because visual arts have somehow found their way into literary language itself, and that there just isn't a need for it, because some writers adopt a cinematic, visual style anyway. I guess you can argue that such a thing as cinematic language exists, but I think there's room for a counter-argument as well - language has always had a visual or cinematic quality in the hands of the right people. (Now I'm just rambling.) Basically, Doré is pretty fabulous.
This modest collection of illustrations from Dover is a great introduction to Doré's work. It's a really good highlight reel, that gives to a solid taste for what he's doing. There are no essays accompanying these illustrations, which might be a bummer to those of us who like reading such things, but it's also really cool to have only the illustrations, standing on their own merits. The illustrations are strong enough on their own that explanation as to why they're so great seems extraneous. (Which might mean this review is irrelevant - just a sign of my own pretentiousness. Fair enough.) Essay and critical work on these pictures is cool, but unnecessary for this particular edition. If I want a more extensive analysis and collection of Doré's works, I'll be able to find them, but this book gives me a satisfying first taste.
The illustrations contained here have a spiritual, mystical, mythical quality that carries them beyond simple depictions of demons and monsters. Horror and the grotesque are here in abundance, but serve as a reminder that there are many things in the world that are much bigger than us and are beyond rational comprehension. Sometimes these things present a very real danger to us, but it doesn't always have to turn out like that. Some of these demons and monsters look rather humorous, and are likely meant to, which makes me think that not everything that appears to be an evil demon always is. And in any case, while the horrors of the rational or irrational world might surround us, this also doesn't mean we will be destroyed by them. Many of the works Doré was illustrating didn't end in the complete destruction of humanity - quite the opposite. So there seems to be a kind of inverted optimism or positivity to the pictures that I find really fantastic.
If this is an artistic style you like, then I'd really recommend checking out this book. If it isn't your style, maybe give it another chance before moving on to your already accepted preferences. ...more
It was fun to pull this quirky collection of (bad/silly) poems off the shelf and read them again. They're typical Burton; if you're into his stuff, yoIt was fun to pull this quirky collection of (bad/silly) poems off the shelf and read them again. They're typical Burton; if you're into his stuff, you'll like this, if you're not into it, you won't like this. I'm still fond of these poems, though I don't completely know why. They're just really amusing. I suspect that Burton knows these aren't great poems, and that the kitschy, dopey rhymes are part of the point. These stories address common Burton topics, like: outsiders, alienation, unobtainable love, and familial anxiety - infidelity, birth, strange children, negligent parents, etc. Another look at really unpleasant things in an amusing, laughable, and ridiculous way that might perpetuate as much as it alleviates any personal anxiety we might have towards the topics of this book. ...more