Apatt's Reviews > The October Country

The October Country by Ray Bradbury
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Oct 19, 14

Read from June 10 to 17, 2012

I am quite useless at reviewing an anthologies so please bear with me. How do you go about reviewing these things any way? Story by story? Sounds like a chore. I'll just muddle through as usual then!

The October Country is a collection of Ray Bradbury's macabre stories, I hesitate to label them as "horror stories" because they are not particularly horrifying, but they are mostly odd and unsettling, almost "new weird" but disqualified on the "new" part! I will just run through them quickly:

"Dwarf" - A little strange, ends before it should for me, no clear denouement, but a good little morality tale.
"The Next in Line" - I like the gradation of depths for burial based on the wealth of the family. There is a very creepy, psychologically unsettling scene in the catacombs. I find the story goes on too long yet the ending is a little too abrupt (too "WTF" if you will). I do love the lyricism and poetic rhythm of his writing though.
"The Watchful Poker Chip of H. Matisse" - A humorous observation about the pretentious avant garde. Nice one!
"Skeleton" - That is gross man! LOL! A darkly humorous story. OK, this one is a bit horrifying. I love it!
"The Jar" - I like how the entire story revolves around the mysterious content of the jar, the twist at the end is cool.
"The Lake" - The first overtly supernatural tale in this book, a sentimental and sad little ghost story.
"The Emissary" - Unexpected twist in this one, to say any more would spoil it. Great story!
"Touched With Fire" - The story of a couple of retired insurance salesmen and a perpetually angry woman who is a sort of Angry Bird in human form.
"The Small Assassin" - My favorite story in this book, give me the collywobbles! I'm not saying anything about the plot!
"The Crowd" - The crowd that materialize in accident scenes are indeed reprehensible. Good story.
"Jack-in-the-Box" - A weird scifi-ish story. Have you seen M. Night Shyamalan 2004 movie The Village? This story is a bit like that (well, no, that movie is a bit like this, which predates it).
"The Scythe" - Don't fear the Reaper, or don't fear the reaping. This story left a singularly eerie image in my mind after reading.
"Uncle Einar" - A pleasant, lighthearted story. Not creepy at all.
"The Wind" - Supernatural, creepy and sad.
"The Man Upstairs" - an excellent vampire tale with triangles, chains, and pyramids - genius!
"There Was an Old Woman" - Annoying bloody woman, good for a giggle.
"The Cistern" - A weird watery tale which is almost a ghost story.
"Homecoming" - "They're creepy and they're kooky, Mysterious and spooky" - actually may be more like "The Munster".
"The Wonderful Death of Dudley Stone" - Strange mainstream-ish story. It is actually quite wonderful, a great way to end the book.

TL;DR: My favorite stories are "Skeleton", "The Small Assassin" and "The Wonderful Death of Dudley Stone".

Probably not Bradbury's best collection but Bradbury is always well worth reading. The best Ray Bradbury anthology is - IMO - The Illustrated Man, The Martian Chronicles is great but it is more of a fix-up novel.

As I write it is almost Halloween, the best time to read this collection!
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