Mike Jensen's Reviews > From The Dust Returned

From The Dust Returned by Ray Bradbury
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Dec 16, 11

Read in December, 2011

This is such a strange book that it is tempting to explain why at length. I dislike the book so much that it would be a disservice to me if I did. Briefly: Bradbury seems confused about his characters. Early in his afterward, the best part of the book, he indicates that they MIGHT be vampires. Later he speaks of the stories as ghost stories: ghosts that sometimes live within the living and sometimes not. Because the author is not fixed on whom these people are, neither am I, and this diminishes my involvement with them.

It is really a collection of short stories about the Elliott family, the characters not quite described above. Many of the stories lack plots. They are more incidents from the lives of these “people.” I did not find many of the incidents involving, though some spoke to me more than others. There is certainly nothing like a direction for these stories to go, but there is something like a conclusion at the end. I found this interesting, but not credible.

Bradbury does have a consistent and unusual tone in this book, which is something of an achievement, but I find Bradbury’s “mature” style wholly immature. It is thick with metaphor and simile, but I do not find those to be interesting, let alone compelling or revealing. True, a tongue and a worm share a basic shape, but calling a tongue a worm does not reveal worm like qualities in all tongues or in this particular tongue, for they share no qualities other than the slight resemblance. This is metaphor for metaphor’s sake, and that is bad writing.

I find it sad that Bradbury’s best work was in the fifties and sixties. I know that Bradbury has fervent fans. I do not know why.
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