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Green Town #1

Dandelion Wine

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The summer of '28 was a vintage season for a growing boy. A summer of green apple trees, mowed lawns, and new sneakers. Of half-burnt firecrackers, of gathering dandelions, of Grandma's belly-busting dinner. It was a summer of sorrows and marvels and gold-fuzzed bees. A magical, timeless summer in the life of a twelve-year-old boy named Douglas Spaulding—remembered forever by the incomparable Ray Bradbury.

Woven into the novel are the following short stories: Illumination, Dandelion Wine, Summer in the Air, Season of Sitting, The Happiness Machine, The Night, The Lawns of Summer, Season of Disbelief, The Last--the Very Last, The Green Machine, The Trolley, Statues, The Window, The Swan, The Whole Town's Sleeping, Goodbye Grandma, The Tarot Witch, Hotter Than Summer, Dinner at Dawn, The Magical Kitchen, Green Wine for Dreaming.

239 pages, Paperback

First published September 1, 1957

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About the author

Ray Bradbury

1,753 books21.3k followers
Ray Douglas Bradbury, American novelist, short story writer, essayist, playwright, screenwriter and poet, was born August 22, 1920 in Waukegan, Illinois. He graduated from a Los Angeles high school in 1938. Although his formal education ended there, he became a "student of life," selling newspapers on L.A. street corners from 1938 to 1942, spending his nights in the public library and his days at the typewriter. He became a full-time writer in 1943, and contributed numerous short stories to periodicals before publishing a collection of them, Dark Carnival, in 1947.

His reputation as a writer of courage and vision was established with the publication of The Martian Chronicles in 1950, which describes the first attempts of Earth people to conquer and colonize Mars, and the unintended consequences. Next came The Illustrated Man and then, in 1953, Fahrenheit 451, which many consider to be Bradbury's masterpiece, a scathing indictment of censorship set in a future world where the written word is forbidden. In an attempt to salvage their history and culture, a group of rebels memorize entire works of literature and philosophy as their books are burned by the totalitarian state. Other works include The October Country, Dandelion Wine, A Medicine for Melancholy, Something Wicked This Way Comes, I Sing the Body Electric!, Quicker Than the Eye, and Driving Blind. In all, Bradbury has published more than thirty books, close to 600 short stories, and numerous poems, essays, and plays. His short stories have appeared in more than 1,000 school curriculum "recommended reading" anthologies.

Ray Bradbury's work has been included in four Best American Short Story collections. He has been awarded the O. Henry Memorial Award, the Benjamin Franklin Award, the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Grand Master Award from the Science Fiction Writers of America, the PEN Center USA West Lifetime Achievement Award, among others. In November 2000, the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters was conferred upon Mr. Bradbury at the 2000 National Book Awards Ceremony in New York City.

Ray Bradbury has never confined his vision to the purely literary. He has been nominated for an Academy Award (for his animated film Icarus Montgolfier Wright), and has won an Emmy Award (for his teleplay of The Halloween Tree). He adapted sixty-five of his stories for television's Ray Bradbury Theater. He was the creative consultant on the United States Pavilion at the 1964 New York World's Fair. In 1982 he created the interior metaphors for the Spaceship Earth display at Epcot Center, Disney World, and later contributed to the conception of the Orbitron space ride at Euro-Disney, France.

Married since 1947, Mr. Bradbury and his wife Maggie lived in Los Angeles with their numerous cats. Together, they raised four daughters and had eight grandchildren. Sadly, Maggie passed away in November of 2003.

On the occasion of his 80th birthday in August 2000, Bradbury said, "The great fun in my life has been getting up every morning and rushing to the typewriter because some new idea has hit me. The feeling I have every day is very much the same as it was when I was twelve. In any event, here I am, eighty years old, feeling no different, full of a great sense of joy, and glad for the long life that has been allowed me. I have good plans for the next ten or twenty years, and I hope you'll come along."

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5 stars
27,659 (42%)
4 stars
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3 stars
11,631 (17%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 5,709 reviews
Profile Image for Peter.
41 reviews20 followers
July 2, 2007
The only reason I gave this book five stars was because I couldn't give it five thousand.

I can't express how beautiful this book is. I've never cried so hard (no, not even when Mrs. Johnson read us "Where the Red Fern Grows" in the third grade), nor have I felt so much love from a bunch of grouped together, sixty-year-old, courier-fonted words. I've never been more scared than I was by the possibility of the Lonely One being just around the corner, hiding in the shadows. I've never thought so much about my own mortality without running away from the subject in fear and forced-naivete. I've never felt more fulfilled by a reading experience on both an intellectual and spiritual level as I was with "Dandelion Wine."

Read it. I beg of you. Your life will be better for it.

Profile Image for Lyn.
1,845 reviews16.3k followers
April 6, 2019
“Some people turn sad awfully young. No special reason, it seems, but they seem almost to be born that way. They bruise easier, tire faster, cry quicker, remember longer and, as I say, get sadder younger than anyone else in the world. I know, for I'm one of them.”

I re-read this after a couple of decades and like most works, I appreciate it better now than then.

“A good night sleep, or a ten minute bawl, or a pint of chocolate ice cream, or all three together, is good medicine.”

It could be that the 40 plus year old is better suited to understand the perspective of the mature writer than the 16-year-old reader, or it could just be that this great work speaks on many different levels.

“The first thing you learn in life is you're a fool. The last thing you learn in life is you're the same fool.”

Fundamental Bradbury, this work explores many of the themes that are representative of his canon: coming of age, spirituality, imagination, and the importance of remaining human amidst an ever increasingly dehumanizing world of technology.

“Sandwich outdoors isn’t a sandwich anymore. Tastes different than indoors, notice? Got more spice. Tastes like mint and pinesap. Does wonders for the appetite.”

description
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,681 followers
February 26, 2017
Magic Realism - according to Wikipedia

"Magical realism, magic realism, or marvelous realism is a genre of narrative fiction and, more broadly, art (literature, painting, film, theatre, etc.) that, while encompassing a range of subtly different concepts, expresses a primarily realistic view of the real world while also adding or revealing magical elements. It is sometimes called fabulism, in reference to the conventions of fables, myths, and allegory. "Magical realism", perhaps the most common term, often refers to fiction and literature in particular, with magic or the supernatural presented in an otherwise real-world or mundane setting."

This book is the essence of Magic Realism. If you are a fan of other Magic Realism books (i.e. McCammon's Boy's Life) you should definitely check this out. The setting is small town America, the main characters are your average young boys, but the things they encounter are far from normal (or are they?) - you will question what is real and what is imagination.

Nostalgia, young vs old, new ideas vs the status quo are all main themes. Learning from past mistakes, respecting the experience of your elders, and history repeating itself all make appearances. There is no life or death - just sunrises/sunsets, new beginnings, strong tradition, and acceptance of your place in all of it.

This book is deeply poetic and rightly so. A fantastically written story that should be read by anyone that appreciates great literature. I am looking forward to the sequel, Something Wicked This Way Comes.
Profile Image for Swrp.
561 reviews86 followers
December 3, 2021
Beautiful Bradbury, Magical Ray
"a gathering of dandelions..."


In the wonderful introduction, Bradbury describes this book as a 'surprise' and "a gathering of dandelions". The stories and memories from childhood and early life are the dandelions. The analogy of 'wine' seems to be very appropriate as this refers to the recollections and experiences that have been preserved ("I was gathering images all of my life, storing them away, and forgetting them.")


[virginballoonflights.co.uk.]
"The wine still waits in the cellars below.
My beloved family still sits on the porch in the dark.
The fire balloon still drifts and burns in the night sky of an as yet unburied summer.
Why and how?
Because I say it is so."


~ Ray Bradbury, Summer 1974


-*-



Oh my goodness, Bradbury`s writing and descriptions are so beautiful and vivid. It is like being transported into a whole new world, that is dreamlike and filled with excitement. It all feels so alive, my inside self and also the outside world!

-*-

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It is the summer of 1928 in Green Town, Illinois. Douglas Spaulding, twelve, is about to discover in many different ways that this summer is 'vintage', unforgettable and memorable. A young Doug will learn the many sides of life, the power of friendship, the value of giving, the magic of belief and also the glance of a bittersweet future - all this in one summer ['a summer of unguessed wonders'].

"Hold summer in your hand, pour summer in a glass, a tiny glass of course, the smallest tingling sip for children; change the season in your veins by raising glass to lip and tilting summer in."

-*-

Here`s a beautiful song, for those hot summers with no breeze...

sing along... 🎵 🎙 🎵 🎙 🎵 🎙

“Air, air . . .
who will buy this air . . .
Air like water and air like ice . . .
buy it once and you’ll buy it twice . . .
here’s the April air . . .
here’s an autumn breeze . . .
here’s papaya wind from the Antilles . . .
Air, air, sweet pickled air . . .
fair . . .
rare . . .
from everywhere . . .
bottled and capped and scented with thyme,
all that you want of air for a dime!”


-*-

| Profound | Brilliant | Splendid | Magical | Expressive | Mysterious | Scary | Poetic | Loving | Vivid | Memorable |

Bradbury`s Dandelion Wine is all this and much much more. Come, discover and relish this unforgettable, stimulating and delicious experience!

-*-

From the notes:

==========

Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don’t they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.

==========

In other words, if your boy is a poet, horse manure can only mean flowers to him; which is, of course, what horse manure has always been about.

==========

And, after all, isn’t that what life is all about, the ability to go around back and come up inside other people’s heads to look out at the damned fool miracle and say: oh, so that’s how you see it!? Well, now, I must remember that.

==========

In this instant it was an individual problem seeking an individual solution. He must accept being alone and work on from there.

==========

He realized that all men were like this; that each person was to himself one alone. One oneness, a unit in a society, but always afraid.

==========

Life was a horror lived in them at night, when at all sides sanity, marriage, children, happiness, were threatened by an ogre called Death.

==========

She sat down next to him on the swing, in her nightgown, not slim the way girls get when they are not loved at seventeen, not fat the way women get when they are not loved at fifty, but absolutely right, a roundness, a firmness, the way women are at any age, he thought, when there is no question.

==========

A cool soft fount; Grandfather imagined it tickling his legs, spraying his warm face, filling his nostrils with the timeless scent of a new season begun, with the promise that, yes, we’ll all live another twelve months.

==========

A walk on a spring morning is better than an eighty-mile ride in a hopped-up car, you know why? Because it’s full of flavors, full of a lot of things growing. You’ve time to seek and find.

==========

Gardening is the handiest excuse for being a philosopher. Nobody guesses, nobody accuses, nobody knows, but there you are, Plato in the peonies, Socrates force-growing his own hem-lock.

==========

“Sunsets we always liked because they only happen once and go away.”

==========

“The first thing you learn in life is you’re a fool. The last thing you learn in life is you’re the same fool. In one hour, I’ve done a lot of thinking. I thought, Leo Auffmann is blind! … You want to see the real Happiness Machine? The one they patented a couple thousand years ago, it still runs, not good all the time, no! but it runs. It’s been here all along.”

==========

“No matter how hard you try to be what you once were, you can only be what you are here and now. Time hypnotizes. When you’re nine, you think you’ve always been nine years old and will always be. When you’re thirty, it seems you’ve always been balanced there on that bright rim of middle life. And then when you turn seventy, you are always and forever seventy. You’re in the present, you’re trapped in a young now or an old now, but there is no other now to be seen.”
==========

“Be what you are, bury what you are not,”

==========

For John was running, and this was terrible. Because if you ran, time ran. You yelled and screamed and raced and rolled and tumbled and all of a sudden the sun was gone and the whistle was blowing and you were on your long way home to supper. When you weren’t looking, the sun got around behind you! The only way to keep things slow was to watch everything and do nothing! You could stretch a day to three days, sure, just by watching!

==========

“It’s not you I worry about,” said Douglas, “It’s the way God runs the world.” Tom thought about this for a moment. “He’s all right, Doug,” said Tom. “He tries.”

==========

“The beginning of wisdom, as they say. When you’re seventeen you know everything. When you’re twenty-seven if you still know everything you’re still seventeen.”

==========

this fine first cool white snow would never melt, but live a thousand summers.

==========

“What ever happened to happy endings?” “They got them on shows at Saturday matinees.” “Sure, but what about life?” “All I know is I feel good going to bed nights, Doug. That’s a happy ending once a day. Next morning I’m up and maybe things go bad. But all I got to do is remember that I’m going to bed that night and just lying there a while makes everything okay.”

==========

“A good night’s sleep, or a ten-minute bawl, or a pint of chocolate ice cream, or all three together, is good medicine, Doug. You listen to Tom Spaulding, M.D.”

==========

“Tom, a couple weeks ago, I found out I was alive. Boy, did I hop around. And then, just last week in the movies, I found out I’d have to die someday.

==========

One day you discover you are alive. Explosion! Concussion! Illumination! Delight!


==========
Profile Image for Darwin8u.
1,559 reviews8,648 followers
July 5, 2017
"I want to feel all there is to feel, he thought. Let me feel tired, now, let me feel tired. I mustn't forget, I'm alive, I know I'm alive, I mustn't forget it tonight or tomorrow or the day after that."
-Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine

description

Ingredients

1 quart yellow dandelion blossoms, well rinsed
1 gallon boiling water
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 orange, sliced
1 lemon slice

Directions

Place dandelion blossoms in the boiling water, and allow to stand for 4 minutes. Remove and discard the blossoms, and let the water cool to 90 degrees F (32 degrees C).

Stir in the yeast, sugar, orange slices, and lemon slice; pour into a plastic fermentor, and attach a fermentation lock. Let the wine ferment in a cool area until the bubbles stop, 10 to 14 days. Siphon the wine off of the lees, and strain through cheesecloth before bottling in quart-sized, sterilized canning jars with lids and rings. Age the wine at least a week for best flavor.*

Review

Periodically this year I've been revisiting the great novels of my youth. I can't escape Ray Bradbury. He was the Michael Chabon of my childhood. He taught me to see magic in seasons and find miracles in the ordinary moments in the day. This is another Bradbury reread from 30 years ago that has improved with age. Add sugar and nostalgia and time. Let life ferment you for 30 years. Come back to his delicate, nuanced prose. Read his sweet notes of youth, of a past infused with both sunshine and magic and see if you don't add a couple stars to your re-read.

Reading this on the Fourth of July was nearly perfect. This book, bookended a day filled with family BBQs, fireworks, community festivals, apple pie and icecream. The book bottles youth, Summer, Americana, etc. It is a love note to being alive, being young, and flirting with the knowledge that life IS fleating, Summer ends, friends move, loved ones die, and there are no machine of happiness. Just 93 days, 15 hours, and 38 minutes of Summer in 2017 to be absorbed one day, one smell, one word at a time.

* stolen wholecloth from one Internet receipe machine or another. Look for the one that is smoking.
Profile Image for Johann (jobis89).
614 reviews4,241 followers
May 8, 2020
“Some people turn sad awfully young. No special reason, it seems, but they seem almost to be born that way. They bruise easier, tire faster, cry quicker, remember longer and, as I say, get sadder younger than anyone else in the world. I know, for I’m one of them.”

A magical, timeless summer in the life of a twelve-year-old boy named Douglas Spaulding.

Forewarning: this review might just be a series of fangirling comments with no real structure or order.

Halfway between being a novel and a series of vignettes, Dandelion Wine is Bradbury’s ode to summer - and if you know me at all, I kinda hate that season. And yet somehow Bradbury had me brimming with nostalgia for childhood summers when it seemed like anything was possible and that summer might just last forever. *wipes tear away*

In some ways I would compare this to Robert McCammon’s Boy’s Life, there are a lot of similar themes and it gave me that same feeling of magic - that magical realism where you can’t tell what is real and what is simply a young boy’s imagination. The descriptions and prose are mesmerising, you can almost smell, hear and see summer. And any book that evokes nostalgia for childhood memories is a winner in my eyes.

Surprisingly, one of the creepiest and most unsettling passages I’ve ever read was in here too! It really played on one of my biggest fears - a murderer following you home or trying to get into your house. I got goosebumps as Bradbury turned up the tension and really set me on edge.

It’s a book that reminds you that you’re ALIVE - right here, right now- and yes, people will die, friends move away, seasons end, but there’s always magic to be discovered in little everyday things. Does this also sound like another one of my favourite books?? The Thief of Always perhaps?? I think this type of story is really my favourite.

Already marking this one as one of my favourite books of the year. How I would love to spend my summer in Green Town.

5/5. (Because I can’t give five thousand!)

This book is so amazing that it made a summer-hater actually start to appreciate summer... and it also made her nostalgic for childhood summers. Bradbury just has this insane ability to convey emotions and settings. Will certainly be one of my fave books of the year!

Update: Reread in May 2020. Remains one of my favourite books of all-time!
Profile Image for Amber.
193 reviews5 followers
December 4, 2013
Um....ok so I totally hated this book. I hope someone out there can tell me why this is a good book. It's unique, sure, but it's just a mess of words. In reading the introduction, I felt like I got a sense of why that is. The author said he forced himself to word-dump every single morning - just writing as creatively etc as he could. Well, I think he just put those "creative" word-dumps together and called it a story. It has no story line, no voice, no character development, no point. The author just seems to want to hear himself write....
Profile Image for Joe Valdez.
470 reviews762 followers
February 14, 2019
My introduction to the fiction of Ray Bradbury is Dandelion Wine, his much-loved ode to small towns, summers and strangeness as only a twelve-year-old boy could discover it. Published in 1957, the book is not a short story collection per se but of the twenty-seven vignettes, ten had been published before: "Season of Disbelief" and "The Window" appeared in Collier's in 1950, "A Story About Love" in McCall's in 1951, "The Lawns of Summer" in Nation’s Business in 1952, "The Swan" in Cosmopolitan and "The Magical Kitchen" in Everywoman’s Magazine in 1954, "The Trolley" in Good Housekeeping in 1955, etc.

Bradbury's ability to enrapture me is divided between his marvelous curiosities (tinkerers, time travel, ghosts, witchcraft, tarot cards, Death) and his prose, which is jeweled and beautifully captures the glow of a boy's summer. When it comes to a strong narrative or characters I could relate to, the book left me wanting, with most of the chapters or vignettes feeling more like what would fill three or four paragraphs of a book as it gears up or takes a break from its central story. If there are central characters, they would be Douglas Spaulding, a twelve-year-old boy and his ten-year-old brother Tom, who experience the summer of 1928 in their hometown of Green Town, Illinois.

From "Summer in the Air": Well, he felt sorry for boys who lived in California where they wore tennis shoes all year and never knew what it was to get winter off your feet, peel off the iron leather shoes all full of snow and rain and run barefoot for a day and then lace on the first new tennis shoes of the season, which was better than barefoot. The magic was always in the new pair of shoes. The magic might die by the first of September, but now in late June there was still plenty of magic, and shoes like these could jump you over trees and rivers and houses. And if you wanted, they could jump you over fences and sidewalks and dogs.

From "The Swan": It was the face of spring, it was the face of summer, it was the warmness of clover breath. Pomegranate glowed in her lips, and the noon sky in her eyes. To touch her face was that always new experience of opening your window one December morning, early, and putting out your hand to the first white cool powdering of snow that had come, silently, with no announcement, in the night. And all of this, this breath-warmness and plum-tenderness was held forever in one miracle of photographic chemistry which no clock winds could blow upon to change one hour or one second; this fine first cool white snow would never melt, but live a thousand summers.

That was the photograph; that was the way he knew her.


From "The Tarot Witch": Now Douglas knew why the arcade had drawn him so steadily this week and drew him still tonight. For there was a world completely set in place, predictable, certain, sure, with its bright silver slots, its terrible gorilla behind glass forever stabbed by waxen hero to save still more waxen heroine, and then the flipping waterfalling chitter of Keystone Kops on eternal photographic spindles set spiraling in darkness by Indian-head pennies under naked bulb light. The Kops, forever in collision or near-collision with train, truck, streetcar, forever gone off piers in oceans which did not drown, because there they rushed to collide again with train, truck, streetcar, dive off old and beautifully familiar pier. Worlds within worlds, the penny peek shows which you cranked to repeat old rites and formulas. There, when you wished, the Wright Brothers sailed sandy winds at Kittyhawk, Teddy Roosevelt exposed his dazzling teeth, San Francisco was built and burned, burned and built, as long as sweaty coins fed self-satisfied machines.

From "Dinner at Dawn": Whoever he was or whatever he was and no matter how different and crazy he seemed, he was not crazy. As he himself had often explained gently, he had tired of business in Chicago many years before and looked around for a way to spend the rest of his life. Couldn't stand churches, though he appreciated their ideas, and having a tendency toward preaching and decanting knowledge, he bought the horse and the wagon and set out to spend the rest of his life seeing it that one part of town had a chance to pick over what the other part of town had cast off. He looked upon himself as a kind of process, like osmosis, that made various cultures within the city limits available to one another. He could not stand waste, for he knew that one man's junk is another man's luxury.

My favorite vignette in Dandelion Wine is "The Swan", in which a young newspaper columnist named Bill Forrester impresses ninety-five year old Miss Helen Loomis with the way he orders at an ice cream parlor. An unlikely relationship blooms based on an old photo he finds that was taken in 1853, when Helen was twenty. The way the old woman makes the younger man feel experienced and worldly and the way the younger man makes her feel energetic and young is told with mesmerizing prose by Bradbury. His imagination and facility with language were tailor-made for the magazine format and while the book struggles to gel, I did enjoy reading it.

Length: 78,792 words
Profile Image for Kimber Silver.
Author 1 book191 followers
January 5, 2023
"Dandelion Wine. The words were summer on the tongue. The wine was summer caught and stoppered…"

As I turned the first page, I found myself in an Illinois berg by the name of Green Town. The year was 1928; a summer packed with possibilities had just begun for Douglas Spaulding and his pals.

"Sandwich outdoors isn’t a sandwich anymore. Tastes different than indoors, notice? Got more spice. Tastes like mint and pinesap. Does wonders for the appetite."

I delighted in Bradbury’s cinematic imagery as I met the town’s inhabitants one by one and discovered what lay behind their closed doors.

"Some people turn sad awfully young. No special reason, it seems, but they seem almost to be born that way. They bruise easier, tire faster, cry quicker, remember longer."

This read like a string of short stories with Doug Spalding as the hub that tied them all together; each person he encountered took center stage and shared their part of the story.

"Gardening is the handiest excuse for being a philosopher. Nobody guesses, nobody accuses, nobody knows, but there you are, Plato in the peonies, Socrates force-growing his own hemlock. A man toting a sack of blood manure across his lawn is kin to Atlas letting the world spin easy on his shoulder."

When my journey began, I imagined a coming-of-age tale. And it was to a small extent, but more than that, it was an exploration of love, loss, aging, and a realization that where we are is precisely where we are meant to be.

"No matter how hard you try to be what you once were, you can only be what you are here and now."

Bradbury’s poetic prose flowed like a lazy river, expertly carrying me through this enchanting novel. If you haven’t read Dandelion Wine, I highly recommend that you spend some time in small-town Illinois.
Profile Image for Andy Marr.
Author 2 books642 followers
January 7, 2023
SO much better than Fahrenheit Thingy-Bobby.
Profile Image for Kenny.
485 reviews815 followers
February 26, 2022
You want to see the real Happiness Machine? The one they patented a couple thousand years ago, it still runs, not good, all the time, no! but it runs. It's been here all along.
Dandelion Wine ~~ Ray Bradbury

1

Uncork and inhale slowly ...
Profile Image for Russell.
278 reviews26 followers
October 16, 2007
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.
Profile Image for mark monday.
1,619 reviews4,958 followers
August 22, 2017
 photo tumblr_mksdf3fhe91rrcg01o1_400_zpsfypvycqy.gif

¡apparently my 1,000th rating! I should be stoked at the milestone I guess, but I was really digging how that 999 looked under my avatar. maybe I should go back and un-rate something and then just keep doing that as needed.
Profile Image for Matt.
Author 1 book9 followers
August 27, 2007
Sure, it's overly sentimental and largely ignores the social problems of the time depicted, but when you're 12 years old in small-town America, there are no social problems. There are only problems regarding the new pair of tennis shoes you want, the creepy guy who hangs out in the ravine, the desire to live forever, to be young forever, to build the perfect happiness machine. Besides, Bradbury's writing is so rich it practically drips, much like biting into a perfectly ripe peach in August.
Profile Image for Sara.
Author 1 book445 followers
May 6, 2021
I confess that I have never tasted dandelion wine. In fact, I have never seen any golden bottles of this summer magic arranged on a cellar shelf awaiting the right time for sampling. I wasn’t around in 1928, but I am lucky enough have experienced the magic of a childhood summer in a world where helping Grandpa bottle wine would easily have been someone’s ritual.

At the beginning, this seemed as if it might be just a collection of vignettes that might not tie together well enough to classify as a novel, but by the end, I had decided it was much more cohesive than I had anticipated. I loved the way the stories almost mirrored the mind of the twelve year old, Douglas Spaulding, whose summer we are invited to share. Every day is a new adventure when you are twelve and have a true degree of freedom, so every chapter represents another piece of an adventure puzzle for me.

Sitting on the summer-night porch was so good, so easy and so reassuring that it could never be done away with. These were rituals that were right and lasting; the lighting of pipes, the pale hands that moed knitting needles in the dimness, the eating of foil-wrapped, chilled Eskimo Pies, the coming and going of all the people.

I was there immediately. I knew times when summer's arrival was marked by iced tea replacing coffee. Once every summer, when I was a child, my mother would make homemade ice cream. We would take turns turning the handle and wait for what seemed forever for it to set enough to be spooned out into bowls and devoured. Nothing you buy in a store even comes close.

Ray Bradbury whisked me back to that world that I had left behind me for so long.

There was a smell of rain. Mother was ironing and sprinkling water from a corked ketchup bottle over the crackling dry clothes behind Tom.

I smiled at this reference to sprinkler bottles...everyone I knew owned one; no one ironed without one.

The smells and wonder of Doug's Grandma's kitchen made me think of my own grandmother, who always had something delectable sitting on the table and whose cornbread was as delicious as any cake you will ever eat.

Along with all these precious memories, there are words of wisdom, like these:

When you’re seventeen you know everything. When you’re twenty-seven if you still know everything you’re still seventeen.

I’d hate to admit how many people I know who are perpetually seventeen.

Also, Bradbury gives us glimpses into the varieties of people who make up our world--not just the children, but also the very old, who are just as genuinely painted as their younger counterparts.

”Some people turn sad awfully young,” he said. “No special reason, it seems, but they seem almost to be born that way. They bruise easier, tire faster, cry quicker, remember longer and, as I say, get sadder younger than anyone else in the world.

Bradbury’s prose is lyrical, his descriptions are transporting, he captures the magic of adolescence and makes us wonder if we have, in fact, been treated to some magic of a more concrete kind or just the magic that exists in the mind of the young and uncorrupted.

A lot happens during this fictional summer, and as Doug and his younger brother Tom lament its loss and project to the next summer, which seems so far away, I could not help thinking how quickly these boys will lose their innocence, their freedom, their world, and be left with only the memories of summers like this one, time with Grandpa, and the bottling of dandelion wine.
Profile Image for Char .
1,596 reviews1,442 followers
August 13, 2018
Once I realized there wasn't going to be a plot, but instead a loosely connected set of vignettes about boys coming of age, I relaxed and enjoyed DANDELION WINE. I marked several pages that I wanted to quote in my review, but now find myself thinking that reviewing it is going to take some of the magic out of it for me.

I absolutely adored the end, (Aunt Rose got sent packing!), and there's no doubt that this book is steeped in nostalgia, but overall, it was a little too wordy for me. I would have liked fewer pages of solid text and more dialogue, but hey, this is Ray Bradbury and I love the guy, however- I think The October Country is still my favorite of all his works.

Lastly, much as I love Ray Bradbury, I still hold Robert McCammon's BOY'S LIFE as my favorite novel of all time.
Profile Image for Gabrielle.
977 reviews1,093 followers
August 26, 2018
Reading this book, I was reminded of a summer evening many years ago, when I was in 6th grade: my best friend and I were at the park around the corner from my house, sitting on the swings of the playground. It was a bit after sunset, and we weren't paying attention to the clouds, so we were a bit surprised when it started raining, but we kept on laughing and swinging as high as we could in that summer rain, until we were both drenched to the bone and finally ran back to my house, where my mother dried us off and made us mint tea. It doesn't sound like much of an anecdote, I know, but I recall how it felt to be on the swing, throwing my feet up as high as I could, as if I wanted to launch myself skyward, and the feeling of both carelessness and slight creeping dread; as if I'd known in a part of my brain that this intoxicating feeling of "who cares if we get wet, who cares what time it is?" could only last so long before there were chores to be done, and school started again. That was really my first taste of the bittersweet reality that summer does, in fact, end. And so does that slice of life when you don't have to worry about anything.

My copy of "Dandelion Wine" is a used bookstore treasure: printed in 1969, it is in near perfect condition and has that intoxicating old book smell that I would get drunk on if I could. And this novel is so full of lyricism, whimsy and nostalgia that I dare you not to feel a bit drunk when you are done with it (go ahead, I'll wait). But like a good wine or scotch, it must be enjoyed slowly: let the words swirl around in your head a minute before you flip the page.

Most of what happens in the summer of 1929, in Green Town, Illinois, is seen through the eyes of 12 years old Douglas Spaulding - or the eyes of some people he sees every day. And to be fair, nothing much happens: there's no action, no grand romance or mystery - though there might be a serial killer on the loose. It's just the encapsulation of a summer long gone-by. You read the small, episodic chapters and you can almost see the gold and green light of the season, the glittering of fireflies at night and the smell of freshly mowed lawn.

Happiness Machines will never work, because everything ends, old ladies were never little girls because there's no such thing as the past, and yet some old people are Time Machines... But what Douglas really learns that summer is the simple and universal finality of life, and while that seems rather obvious to adult eyes, nothing makes one grow up faster than understanding that they too, will die someday. Sometimes, it takes a life time to make peace with that idea...

Every page of this book could be quoted for its, beautiful, intensely wistful prose. It grabbed me by the feels and didn't let me go until the very last page, though I did take a break to get some tissues after finishing the chapters devoted to Miss Loomis and William Forrester. It is an absolutely gorgeous read, best kept for a lovely summer day. Highly recommended.

And of course, because it is a Bradbury book, I must leave you with this masterpiece: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1IxO...
Profile Image for Sarah.
335 reviews95 followers
November 29, 2022
Have you ever checked into a hotel late at night, after a long day of driving, snuggled down in bed for some needed rest, and just as you close your weary eyes…

… the couple in the next room starts going at it with an intensity that shakes your headboard and fills your room with a cacophony of grunts, groans and caterwauls?

In this situation, you have few good options. You can knock on the wall, but that rarely, if ever, works. You can call the front desk, but that’s an awkward conversation. You can don earplugs and try to re-imagine the rhythmic thumping of your bed as magic fingers. Or, you can attempt a “contact high” arousal, which may feel good for a moment but is also guaranteed to make you feel like a skeeve.

Well, reading this book was like being in a hotel room next to Ray Bradbury as he vigorously fornicated with nostalgic memories of his own idyllic, youthful summers in small-town America during the 1950s. In no way did I feel brought into the metaphorical room of this story; I was just overhearing the ruckus through thin walls.

He switches back and forth between stream-of-conscious musings and short vignettes, and I had a hard time understanding the thought process connecting one to the other. The writing is sometimes impressionistic, like imagist poetry, and sometimes it's very straightforward. The result, for me, was a disconcerting sort of muddle.

Honestly, I feel terrible saying this, because I love Ray Bradbury to fan-girl level proportions. And there are some incredibly tender scenes in this book that moved me deeply (“contact high” is always an option, remember?).

For example, in the sixth chapter, a simple description of a new pair of summer sneakers made me cry in public, which both surprised and embarrassed me a little:
Feel those shoes, Mr. Sanderson? Feel how fast they’d take me? All those springs inside, feel all the running inside, feel how they kind of grab hold and can’t let you alone and don’t like you just standing there?

My favorite vignette in the book centers on Leo Auffmann’s invention of a happiness machine, and his wife’s unexpectedly negative response to it. I don’t want to make a spoiler, so I’ll just say this is a very warm, very tender reflection on what it means to be truly happy. It’s also one of the few speculative, SciFi storylines in the book, with sparkly touches of magical realism.

But even with these (and many, many more) tender moments, and with Bradbury’s uncanny ability to evoke emotion through vivid word pictures, I was so, so bored and irritated for most of this novel. Like, I had to give myself actual pep talks (it’s November, missy, and you’ve got a 52- book challenge deadline to meet) to make myself keep reading each day.

I totally respect any reader who’s given this book five stars, because this is Bradbury, and the writing - the imagery, the sensory immersion - is so good. But I personally felt like an outsider through most of this book, instead of someone brought directly into the room of the writer’s imagination.

So, I’m giving it a stingy three stars.

Thanks to Shawn, who mentioned this book to me while being upfront about his own 3-star rating. Really, I’m not sorry I read it, because it let me see - or rather, overhear Bradbury vigorously getting down with - the nostalgic 50s of his youth. I may read it again in a few years, with adjusted expectations.

Book/Song Pairing: Train to Nowhere (The Champs)
Profile Image for Apatt.
507 reviews751 followers
April 27, 2016
Let’s get one thing clear Dandelion Wine is not science fiction, it is not exactly fantasy either, though there is some element of magic realism to it. So if you are a fan of Ray Bradbury’s sci-fi books like Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles, or his fantasy Something Wicked This Way Comes, and you are looking for more in that fantastical vein, Dandelion Wine may disappoint you. The best mental preparation is to forget about genre and just let Bradbury tell his story in that uniquely beautiful way he does.
“Somehow the people who made tennis shoes knew what boys needed and wanted. They put marshmallows and coiled springs in the soles and they wove the rest out of grasses bleached and fired in the wilderness. Somewhere deep in the soft loam of the shoes the thin hard sinews of the buck deer were hidden. The people that made the shoes must have watched a lot of winds blow the trees and a lot of rivers going down to the lakes. Whatever it was, it was in the shoes, and it was summer.”
If one adjective can describe Dandelion Wine it would be “whimsical”. This book is not really about anything, but in some ways, it is also about everything. On the surface it does not seem to be about anything because nothing particularly dramatic, strange or exciting happen in it. At the same time, looking at it another way, it seems to be about everything in so far as it covers a wide spectrum of the human experience; growing up, growing old, making friends, losing friends, acceptance of old age and of death etc.

While Dandelion Wine is a novel, not an anthology, it is episodic in structure and reads a little like an interrelated collection of short stories. That said it seems more cohesive as a novel than The Martian Chronicles; perhaps because it features one central character, twelve year old Douglas Spaulding. Most of the novel is seen through his eyes though there are parts where other characters briefly take centre stage as protagonists. The story is set in Green Town, Illinois in the summer of 1928 where brand spanking new tennis shoes seem to have a life of their own when you put them on, where a man constructs a Happiness Machine that almost works, where a time machine sort of exists and many other magical things occur which are only magical if you look at them the right way.

The most memorable chapter deals with a serial killer called The Lonely One and his creepy stalking of a girl who may be too brave for her own good. If this sounds like some James Patterson style nastiness it really is not, the brief episode is atmospheric and almost scary but done in the best possible taste. I also love the poignant story about a pair of “star-crossed lovers”, one born too early, the other too late; and the story of an old lady who learns to accept her age through some annoying meddling kids. The coming of age stories of Douglas Spaulding and his brother are charming but they did not really grab me as my childhood was nothing like theirs.

As always Bradbury’s prose manages to be highly lyrical without any inclusion of highfalutin words that would have you reaching for the dictionary. This is the sort of book to curl up with and read at a leisurely pace. At less than 300 pages you could read it in a day or two but this is not a book to simply plow through. You would get more from it if you relax, soak in the atmosphere and the nostalgia, perhaps pausing now and then to reflect on episodes of your life that the book reminds you of. My only criticism of Dandelion Wine is that it may be too nice, sweet and gentle for my taste (serial killer notwithstanding).

Dandelion Wine is said to be the first volume of Bradbury’s "Green Town” series, where Something Wicked This Way Comes is the second volume, followed by a couple more volumes which I have not read. Something Wicked This Way Comes is my favorite Bradbury book but it is an overt fantasy book and does not seem to be connected to Dandelion Wine in any way except for the setting.

In any case, although Dandelion Wine is not my favorite Bradbury it is a pleasant enough reading experience that puts me in a good mood. Definitely, time well spent.
Profile Image for Sr3yas.
223 reviews996 followers
May 20, 2017
"Dandelion Wine.... The words were summer on the tongue".

We all love to travel, one way or another. That's why we read! To experience time; To experience new worlds; To experience...

And sometimes, we find those peculiar time machines that take us to somewhere special. Let's say, a reminiscent of nostalgic childhood. That one is always special. My favorite in that category are To Kill a Mockingbird and Malgudi Days

Now I have Dandelion Wine... And It is different from all these books!

In Dandelion Wine, Ray Bradbury welcomes us to Summer of 1928 in the fictional world of Green town. We are introduced to Douglas, a 12-year-old boy, and his brother Tom, a 10-year-old. We follow them through an array of loosely connected stories of summer of '28. The kind of stories that just don't happen in our world anymore. A kid finding himself as he understands that he is alive and his reaction as he understands the unfairness of life and death; A family man trying to create a happiness machine; An elderly woman trying to convince the young children that she was young once too... So many beautiful stories.

This work is considered as Bradbury's most personal work as the stories presented in here are a blend of his own childhood and imagination. This wicked concoction produces a world of magical realism, wonder, innocence and pure imagination.

This is a unique work that touches multiple genres and a multitude of philosophy through the eyes of children. Well, they are not the regular children you find in fiction. They are the thoughtful kind of children. I never knew there were thoughtful children like these in the world!

Highly recommended. Especially if you like lyrical prose, coming of age stories or/and the movie Big Fish (2003)

Oh, wait. There is also a serial killer lurking somewhere in the town. Needless to say, summer of '28 was very eventful.

--------------------------
First Update
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Sometimes, there might just be a story behind how a particular book gets into your radar. Dandelion Wine has such a story to tell!

Back in 2015, I was catching up with some of my dreadful assignments and tasks which took hours to complete. I was exhausted by the end of the session, but not at all sleepy (I deduce that it was all the coffee that did the trick). So I decided to watch a movie to kill some time. And the movie was Age of Adaline.

Oddly enough, I liked the movie. And there was this one particular scene that really caught my attention.


I am not a romantic, but I adore this scene. It also created a mental TBR for me. My own personal "Flower Trilogy".

And Dandelion wine came to me first.

I don't have a book review right now. This......this book is something else. I might need days involving hours of wall staring to fully comprehend what I've just read.

But I will tell you this, Dandelion wine is so damn beautiful.
Profile Image for Antoinette.
717 reviews32 followers
August 1, 2022
This book was a sweet indulgence. I don’t think there is anything that compares to being a kid and off for the summer. This book brought back memories of my long ago summers- not in 1928 as this book, but in the 1960’s. The freedom of just running out and joining up with all the neighbour kids and planning our day. Just making our own fun.

The boys in this book experienced traditions- making dandelion wine. They used their imaginations; they learned that sometimes best friends move; they learned that loved ones died; they learned the wisdom and stories of the older folks. It was a joy to experience their summer along with them.

Reading this book brought to mind a song I loved to hear in the 60’s.- not dandelion wine but summer wine.

“Strawberries, cherries and an angel’s kiss in spring
My summer wine is really made from all these things
Take off your silver spurs and help me pass the time
And I will give to you summer wine
Oh, oh summer wine.”

By Nancy Sinatra, Lee Hazelwood 1966.

Summer is the perfect time to read this book!

4.5 Stars

Published: 1957
Profile Image for Wayne Barrett.
Author 3 books105 followers
August 9, 2017
Is it possible to catch magic in a bottle? Sunshine or the stars in the sky like captured fireflies? Maybe not, but Bradbury certainly captured a boys summer in a bottle and it was sweet as Dandelion Wine.

There is something about Bradbury's style that makes me reminisce about my boyhood like no other writer has. Similar to what he did with Something Wicked this way Comes and The Halloween Tree, Bradbury pulls me into his story with his poetic, symbolically descriptive style in a way that does what true readers of fiction literature love; he transforms me from my world of reality into his story, and being a man, these stories are something to treasure because it is easy with age to forget your childhood, but when I am captured and taken up into these stories, I am reminded what it's like to be a boy again. I remember the adventures, running through fields, leaping fences and climbing trees. I remember the feeling of rolling in the grass and swimming through murky ponds. I can actually smell the aromas of the darkened movie theater, the county fair, and grandmas cobblers baking in the oven.

This story was a breath of fresh air, a sip from the fountain of youth, and it brought back some memories about life and loss that touched me in a way that I can only give this my highest rating. I admit, Dandelion Wine is not an epic, not an action packed adventure or thriller to tantalize a readers fancy. But what it accomplished in the heart of this reader makes it deserving of the best I can offer.
Profile Image for Diane Barnes.
1,210 reviews453 followers
June 23, 2021
If you are looking for science fiction because it's Ray Bradbury, or a logical straightforward plot, or a book like all the others that you usually read, leave this one alone.

If you want magic between the covers once you start turning pages, then by all means open these doors. If you want beautiful prose (" the bee-fried air", bee-fried air, for Pete's sake!)
that captures a summer in 1928, that takes you inside the mind and imagination of Douglas and Tom Spaulding, 12 and 10 years old, here you go. If you need some lovely practicality, there's plenty from Grandma and Grandpa and Great Grandma too. Philosophy, time travel just from listening to elderly people, magic spells and potions that may or may not work, but who cares, it's all included in these pages.

This book made me happy. What more can you ask?
Profile Image for Barbara.
260 reviews195 followers
July 25, 2022
"Dandelion wine is nothing if it is not the boy-hid-in-the-man playing in the fields of the Lord on the green grass of other Augusts in the midst of starting to grow up, grow old, and sense darkness waiting under the trees to seed the blood."

Bradbury, in the introduction, relates how this novel came to be. The yearly gathering of dandelions for wine making was like "gathering images of my life, storing them away." These memories of summer 1925 in Waukegan, Illinois (renamed Green Town in this novel) are recalled in this evocative book. From the feel of the summer heat, the pleasant creak of the front porch rockers, the smell of ozone from a welcomed shower, my own summertime memories were coming back to me, first slowly, one by one like a leaky faucet, increasing with rapidity, even finding their way into my dreams. Events deeply buried in my memory bank appeared with amazing clarity.

Through the voice of a twelve -year-old boy, Douglas Spaulding, Bradbury’s recollections of this special summer come alive. The thrill and anticipation of two months of freedom with its new adventures and new awakenings."Thinking about it, watching it, is new. You do things and don’t watch .Then all of a sudden you look and see what you’re doing, and it’s the first time really." But the innocence of youth, this blissful childhood will not remain. Douglas learns those sneakers that seem to make you fly will wear out, friends move away, magic machines aren’t really magic, loved ones die, and you will also die. Summer may never have the same magic for Douglas, but the happy memories will be recalled throughout his life.

This is a story of a way of life that will never be again. It is an exuberance for the simple things in life and the inevitability and finality of death. Bradbury’s lyrical writing was unlike anything else I have read by him. It was a walk back in time for any adult, whether childhood was long ago or just ten years. It definitely should be read in summer, preferably while sitting on a porch in the heat of the day or on a balmy evening. A tall glass of ice tea or lemonade may help those memories pour back into your consciousness.
Profile Image for Fabian.
933 reviews1,525 followers
May 5, 2019
Haven't tasted anything as good as this season's dandelion wine. It is rich, effervescent: it transports you like some Madeline to a time when it was bottled: its sunshine color will redden your cheeks and make you remember...

This coming of age idyll is absolute perfection. This, because idylls are fictional: the remembered anecdotes of childhood is where darkness creeps, and where nature has plans that are cyclical and macabre. Of this Bradbury writes in astonishing prose, of the undertow, of "that crouching malignancy down below." (45) That the child realizes his mortality, this slice of personal history we all may share, this is what's at stake in "Dandelion Wine" (I avidly question why the book hasn't been received as a genuine All American Novel, as it is wicked, like "Winesburg, Ohio," & has more (complex) lessons than any Atticus Finch could possibly pass on to his students). The childhood lessons border on the metaphysical--again, I am sure Bradbury has arrived at the root of the root of... It shows us this part of himself that shows us part of ourselves.

The novel is very unpredictable, life-as-lived. What image from the writer's early biography will we be standing before in awe next? Even the fantastic dialogue displays tremendous themes, battling it out with everyday minutia. Youth and age are in silent revolt: as is technology and daily life, as is life and death. In this ebb-and-flow-created "harmony", the master brings out the shady outlines of death; almost a century old, the novel is nothing if not modern, futuristic even, in so many regards...

You know the popular adage: It takes a Whitman to make us value/pay close attention the little natural details of life; it takes a Bradbury to make us question such unholy a communion with the grass under our feet...
Profile Image for Em Lost In Books.
843 reviews1,685 followers
October 9, 2017
it was the summer of 1928, way before Radio or TV were part of our life. 12 year old Douglas spent that summer exploring his small town and its people. He started jotting down his "discoveries and revelations" in a notepad so that he won't forget about them. We through him met extraordinary people of this small town. A man adamant on making a Happiness Machine, an old woman who thought that she had met her lover from her past life, going away of a dear friend, last ride on the trolley, and magical kitchen and many more stories. Each story was unique in its own way and was connected to other stories.

this was my first Bradbury and it won't be my last. I fell in love with how beautifully and smoothly he mixed these simple stories with magic. he made me feel like a child who was listening to these stories before sleeping at night and who in dream would revisit this magical world.

this story has all the right elements in the right proportion that made me squeal, jubilant, scared, mad, lonely, hungry, and love like a child.

highly recommended!
Profile Image for Dean.
389 reviews114 followers
October 25, 2018
like good poesy and full of magic..
Enorm in his description power, you can see, hear and even smell the summer!!
I must digest all this beauty and enchanted prose, folks..
Bradbury has blown me away with Dandelion wine!!
But I must continuing my readings, Ray Bradbury has me again on the hook, and he will not let me go until the last page is enjoyed!!

The Storys are superb..
I want much more by Bradbury and his Green Town series!!!

A wonderful and exciting experience!!!
"The Tarot Witch" and other Storys full of ambiente and saturated with colors, pictures and even smells, creating a world--vivid and sparkling--

Bradbury has keep me fascinated and has made me forget my reality and surroundings..
Great and powerful written!!!


Highly recommendable to all of you lovers of very good fiction!!!

Dean;)
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.2k followers
December 4, 2017
"Dandelion wine. The words were summer on the tongue. The wine was summer caught and stoppered."

“I want to feel all there is to feel, he thought. Let me feel tired, now, let me feel tired. I mustn't forget, I'm alive, I know I'm alive, I mustn't forget it tonight or tomorrow or the day after that.”

Doug (12) and Tom (10) Spaulding live in Green Town, Illinois. Bradbury published this book in 1957, though you can see why this became popular in the late sixties, celebrating summer and nature as it does. As Bradbury says in an introduction to a later edition, “Green Town. Waukegan. Byzantium.” For an Illinois reader as I am now, it feels very much like an Illinois book, situated as it is in a small town on Lake Michigan. As I began the book, a reread after decades of separation, it felt romanticized and sentimental, compared to my teenaged reading of it, which was just celebratory, as I seem to recall. It certainly is nostalgic, which as a much older man I appreciate more than I would have earlier in my life. Rereading the early chapters made me want to write my own book about, say, my own summer of 1965. I was annoyed at times by some of Bradbury’s romantic writing along the lines of “Somewhere, a bird whistled,” “Somewhere, a dog barked” and sort of stereotypical assumptions about how all American small towns are alike in their apparent homogeneity. But on the whole I liked these early chapters quite a bit.

“It was the face of spring, it was the face of summer, it was the warmness of clover breath. Pomegranate glowed in her lips, and the noon sky in her eyes. To touch her face was that always new experience of opening your window one December morning, early, and putting out your hand to the first white cool powdering of snow that had come, silently, with no announcement, in the night. And all of this, this breath-warmness and plum-tenderness was held forever in one miracle of photographic is chemistry which no clock winds could blow upon to change one hour or one second; this fine first cool white snow would never melt, but live a thousand summers.”

The book is episodic, a series of autobiographically fictional vignettes based on Bradbury’s Waukegan 1928 life, which is not to say it doesn’t develop and grow as a narrative of Doug’s coming of age summer. One incident I like has to do with the almost ecstatic memory of wearing new sneakers on a sunny day. They’re magic, as we see many things are in this summer. Which is to say that several things operate as what would now be called magic realism.

Early themes established include the importance of memory, of course; youth vs. adulthood/old age (some kids talk to an old woman, 95, who shows them pictures when she was a young girl; the young kids don’t believe she was ever young!); spirituality, imagination, and--a Bradbury staple--the importance of being human in the often dehumanizing world of technology.

I was completely seduced by the book just at the point the fantasy—the magical realism--turns dark, which is an important part of Doug’s coming of age, of course. The Ravine, Mr. Lonely (who kills young women), and the Tarot Witch from the Penny Arcade, all these loom ever larger as the summer proceeds. The specter of death is everywhere, as Grandmother dies, a young woman is killed, and as Doug himself gets very ill at one point.

Doug has a realization: "So if trolleys and runabouts and friends can go away for a while or go away forever, or rust, or fall part and die, and if people can be murdered, and if someone like great-grandma, who was going to live forever, can die. . . if all of this is true. . . Then I Douglas Spaulding must also . . ."

In the end, Doug still has fireflies and cicadas and starry nights and long conversations in the dark with family and friends. “Praying mantises, zeppelins, acrobats, sword swallowers!” But there is now the specter of death that is present in a way it had not been before. There remains over all a kind of sweet celebration of Doug’s twelfth summer, for any youthful summer, which I also had, which I hope you also had. It’s more special for me this year because I have kids that age (12, 11, 10) who had their own joyous (and thankfully not very dark) summer.

It kind of reminded me of the nostalgic horror fantasy of Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I bet Gaiman owes something to Bradbury in this book, not the least a deep sense of the human and a meditation on the passage of time and memory, all within the context of fantasy/horror/magic.

The sequel, which I recently read, is Something Wicked This Ways Comes, which ups the darkness quotient. Goodreads friend Michael Jandrok says one should read Dandelion Wine, a meditation on summer, and summer's (childhood's) end, every September. Wicked is Bradbury's Halloween book, to be read maybe every October.

Dandelion Wine Recipe:

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/162202/d...
Profile Image for Ananthu.
82 reviews18 followers
April 10, 2018
If a day ever comes when the patisseries of the world draw back their prized pastries and sweets, and replace them with old and new copies of Dandelion Wine, I would be the first one, surely, to grab hold of the person next to me and aver in my most jubilant voice that Yes, I did see it coming. Nobody else but me in the whole wide world.

Twelve-year-old Douglas Spaulding snaps his finger before a slowly waking Green Town, and thus begins the summer of 1928. A summer of surprises, of mysteries, of adventures, of love, and of death. A summer not to be forgotten, but to be relished. A summer to be bottled and put away, safe.

Oft, reclining on the bed, after several bouts of breathing in the fragrance from the heart of the book and wool-gathering, I would pull out the bookmark and open the page on which I fell asleep the previous night, and I would wait. The voice inside me would then begin to read a word, and another, then another, popping the beautiful sentences one after the other into my mouth, sucking them like fruit drops*. And I, finding myself with a familiar feeling, would nestle against the fluffy and delicate new found presence under my head, a presence of something incorporeal, a presence summoned by the sheer exquisiteness of the prose, a presence that wraps itself around you, a presence that dabs your eyes with colours of different but vivid hues, so that the next time your eyes dart away from the page, you find the world a tad changed, it’s secrets more limpid and more familiar.

With such prose, one needn't rest one’s head on pillows but the sentences, and then dream, and dream, and dream, with open eyes.

Dandelion Wine is a celebration of life and death, old and young, dark and light, joy and terror… Bradbury’s love of life, of small joys, of the life of everyday, gambols about the pages and leaps out and grabs hold of you, never to let you go. If Zen in the Art of Writing was a kick in the pants for this reader and sent him rushing to the blank page, Dandelion Wine is a pertinent reminder to find one’s own magic, to salvage those contours and colours of this intractable thing called life, the contours and colours which the clock winds can whiffle down the rugged hills into darkness anytime. A reminder to bottle them, to put them away safely. And then one day, when you feel like it, you can climb down the stairs and walk into the dark cellar, and dip a finger into the bottle, and taste them once again.

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A gentle turn of the last page, and then blankness, expected but still surprising, announcing the surcease, the cessation of the note, the echoes of its crescendo ricocheting the walls of the ears still, the blankness playing the final tune, a tune so faint you could mistake it for a whisper, a tune that tugs the heart as you close the page and say your silent goodbyes to the people of Green Town.

But of course, all it would take is one more flourish and snap of the hands, and the summer of 1928 and Green Town would come alive once again, and with it you, Mr Bradbury, the boy who “finally fell out of trees when he was twelve and went and found a toy-dial typewriter and wrote his first ‘novel’”.

Thank you for “falling out”; for emancipating a smile I was oblivious of but had inside me all along; for sprinkling my insides with scintillas of sweet and shimmering snow that tickled and awakened the magic I thought I had lost with words; for all the secrets I felt but cannot name…for all of that, and much more.



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* Inspired by a quote from Too Loud a Solitude by Bohumil Hrabal
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