Russell's Reviews > Dandelion Wine

Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
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's review
Oct 16, 2007

it was amazing
Read in September, 2006

Recently while moving bookcases, books and furniture around, I came across my copy of Dandelion Wine .

I had read it once, years ago, during my own personal Golden Age of Science Fiction, ages 8 to 16. Now was a good time as any to revisit this novel. Bradbury had been marked, incorrectly, in my mind as a sci-fi writer on the same level as Heinlein or Asimov.

He's not a hard core, I, Robot type of sci-fi writer, really. More like a fantasy writer who touched on sci-fi themes.

And, he's in his own league. There haven't been many authors like Bradbury, heart of a poet, imagination as great as any, and a style that is both comfortable and familiar to the reader and yet is still unique.

Dandelion Wine is in my opinion the most 'poetical' of anything I've read by him.

It's a pean to childhood joys and fears, a story of the rite of passage from young child to a more aware young man. The town, fictional, of Green Town is a nod to Bradbury's real home town of Waukegan, Illinois, as seen from the eyes of Douglas Spaulding, a 12 year old boy learning he is alive and mortal all in one summer.

The novel is a series of short stories about the town and its people, told mostly through Douglas or his younger brother, Tom. The Happiness Machine, the Green Machine, the old tarot witch, friends moving away, old ways coming to an end, new ways being noticed, and sometimes an old way being restored, death and life, all parade past on the pages of this luminous novel.

The Summer of 1928 is perfectly bottled and stored in the cellar, just waiting for someone to come down, open the cap, and breathe deep of the golden light, and let the feelings play around like incandescent beetles scattering in the bright summer sun.

It is nostalgic without being maudlin or self pitying. It is magical without being vulgar and ostentatious. It bobs and weaves around the darkness and light of being alive, of being young or old and, always at the center, of being human.

Bradbury is a master storyteller. He is at the top of his game as he casts a spell about the rite of passage for Douglas as he progresses from a simple child to be a more complex and self-reflecting young man.

I really can't give this book enough praise. It's delightful and thought-provoking. The themes are all known, but they are expressed with such skill and care that they don't feel old. Rather like the streets around your home after a spring rain. You know them, yes, but they are refreshed and clean.

I encourage you to get a copy and read it.
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05/08/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-19 of 19) (19 new)

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Zaveqna Great review - you've really noticed what's noticeable about the book - I felt the same way reading it.

Don Incognito I very much agree about Bradbury, even having read only two of his books--he's more of a fantasy writer. Or a very soft sci-fi writer. That's a compliment.

Russell Thanks Don (love the nick, btw). You nailed how I feel about him as well, and it is a compliment :)

Don Incognito It's just a generic nickname indicating that I refuse to use my real name, but thanks.

Russell I understand. I keep hearing a Spanish accent roll it out to the sound of a flamenco guitar :)

Dare Johnson Beautiful review, Russell! You mimic the easy-flowing, sensory poetry of this gentle masterpiece. To me, it is childhood distilled. Have you read The Martian Chronicles? In it I find the same poetry, a kind of nostalgia for the future. Together, two of my very favourite books.

Live forever!

Russell Thanks, Dare. I read "The Martian Chronicles" years ago, what I remember it was completely Bradbury, but I no longer remember many of the details. I see that I'll have to read it again :)

Margaret Love your synopsis. I read this every June 1.

Russell Thanks Margaret. Reading it every June 1st sounds like a wonderful tradition!

 ♥♥Mari♥♥ You, sir, are yourself a poet. Seldom have I encountered such a beautiful, well-written review. KUDOS to you!!

Russell Thank you for your kind words, Mari, I'm glad you enjoyed my review.

 ♥♥Mari♥♥ You're more than welcome!! I'm sending you a friend reaquest!! : )

Don Incognito Apparently some hard science fiction writers, such as Damon Knight, dislike Bradbury. I don't understand really understand why except that it can only be because Bradbury was not hard sci-fi and they are.

Russell Yeah, I've seen that before as well. I'm not sure why either, Bradbury didn't try to sell himself as a hard sci-fi writer, if I recall correctly he claimed he only wrote one sci-fi story, Fahrenheit 451.

Don Incognito I think either he had idiosyncratic parameters for "science fiction" or I do, because I would not call Fahrenheit 451 science fiction any more than I would call 1984 science fiction.

Russell I'm going to go with the former, Bradbury was idiosyncratic as a general rule :)

Don Incognito And putting aside whether I like it or not, Fahrenheit 451 is a didactic sociopolitical novel.

 ♥♥Mari♥♥ Isn't there some sort of distinction between "hard SF" and "soft SF"? Maybe I'm wrong, but I seem to have heard that somewhere along the line... I would say that Bradbury fits into the latter category. I do consider his work to be science fiction. Maybe it could be classified as "social commentary SF", or some such thing. Besides, aren't dystopias part of the science fiction category?

However you categorize Bradbury, he's definitely a master! And he never even went to college! (I know, because I did some research on hiim for a blog post I wrote recently.)

message 19: by Don Incognito (last edited Jun 12, 2012 09:55PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Don Incognito We have no disagreement--Bradbury is "soft" SF if any kind of SF. Hard SF writers are much more interested in technology and in physics--Asimov and Clarke exemplify that. Soft SF writers can be flexible to the point that what they write may be only vaguely SF. They allow more room for fantasy.

The dislike for Bradbury isn't from us; it's apparently from Damon Knight and possibly other old hard SF masters.

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