The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury Release Date: February 1, 1951 Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics Sci-Fi/Fantasy Short Story Collection Number of Pages: 288 Paperback Source: Warren Public Library Rating: PG Read 7/2/17 to 9/20/17
This one is way overdue. Although it was our July book club read, I never got around to finishing it until recently. Not because I didn’t enjoy it, but because it’s easier to put down a book that is very short stories. You read one and set it aside. This will also be a bit long because there were a lot of stories. My review of each is short, but still. And, of course, I add in thoughts from the rest of my book club at the end. Let’s dive in…
Dancing So As Not to Be Dead: An Introduction by Ray Bradbury
I’ve never read Ray Bradbury. Of course, I’ve heard of him and as I read this book I may find I know more of his stories than I think I do. The reason I bring up that I haven’t read his stories before is because this short introduction already endeared him to me. The edition I am reading says the introduction was written in 1997. By that time Mr. Bradbury was a very famous man, yet he is extremely humble. I’m not going to rate the introduction, I just wanted to put in my 2 cents about those pages.
Prologue: The Illustrated Man
Our introduction to the title character. The man who will somehow tie all these short stories together. He is an interesting character to be sure. I feel bad for him and can’t help but want to offer assistance. It is plain to me that the narrator feels the same. The man is fascinating. ~ 5 stars
I can only imagine that this story seemed very odd and was firmly in the realm of science fiction back in 1951. I’m sure it was a bit creepy to read back then. With today’s technology and all of the “smart” devices we live with day in and day out, this story took on an air of foreboding. I feel a bit like all parents should read this story as a sort of cautionary tale. ~ 5 stars
An interesting tale of death and the acceptance of death. There are a lot of emotions the characters go through in the few pages that it takes to tell this story. Also, again, the story holds up all these years later even though it deals with space travel. ~ 4 stars
The Other Foot
I can really see why Mr. Bradbury was thought of a man ahead of his time. All of these stories are just brilliant and insightful. For a white man in the 1950’s, he certainly had his finger on the pulse of racism and its ramifications. This story really moved me. I hate to think of how rampant racism still is and how it seems to be gaining strength of late. I can only hope we don’t end up like the Earth in this story before we come to our senses. ~ 5 stars
I’m starting to wonder if it’s a good idea to review each story. After all, this one was only 6 pages long. But it was very impactful. The last line is the very best…one of the best in all of literature maybe. It’s all about perspective. ~ 5 stars
How can so much fit into so few pages? This one was a surprise with the VERY strong element of faith. But really it shouldn’t have surprised me. I guess humans have always been arrogant, hurting each other and themselves to find proof of their religious beliefs and to discount others. ~ 5 stars
The Long Rain
While not my favorite of this compilation, it was still brilliant. I could feel the rain and the insanity by the end. ~ 4 stars
The Rocket Man
I really don’t know what to equate this story to, but it made me sad. It was very touching and emotional for me. ~ 4 stars
The Last Night of the World
Wow! Just wow. Five pages and they just spoke to me. “We haven’t been too bad, have we?” “No, nor enormously good. I suppose that’s the trouble – we haven’t been very much of anything except us, while a big part of the world was busy being lots of quite awful things.” Wow. ~ 5 stars
I think it’s safe to say this author is not a fan of censorship…at all. I’m sure if I looked up the date this particular story was written and looked at the history of book banning this would fall in a busy year for such things. Ray Bradbury wanted to make a statement with this story and he sure did! ~ 4 stars
No Particular Night or Morning
I’m no expert at finding meaning in books. I know this book had a meaning that was somehow beyond my grasp. But it pulled me in and kept my attention. A little side note, I love how the people on a space ship are smoking and walking around and eating like there’s not such thing as zero gravity. It’s wonderful to have that peak into the thoughts of the future at the time these stories were written.~ 4 stars
The Fox and the Forest
Interesting concept. Once again, Mr. Bradbury’s vision of the future is a bit scary with the way I currently see things going. ~ 4 stars
Humans are greedy. They always have been and probably always will be. Even when they rationalize their greed, it’s still greed. This story illustrates that point perfectly.
~ 4 stars
The Concrete Mixer
Consumerism, my opinion is the only right opinion, if you don’t agree with me you’re a bad person, my way is the only right way. Ah, American’s and their egos. ~ 3 stars
I guess AI is AI, but I loved the marionette spin to it. The grass is always greener and all that. Loved this story. ~ 5 stars
Who is victorious in war? Can you ever truly win? Whether it’s a year later or thousands of years later, the aggressor will be called to task for his deeds. ~ 4.5 stars
What happens when you’re late to the party reading Ray Bradbury is you realize how many TV shows have used his stories for inspiration. I gotta say, I’m glad I didn’t know about this story when I watched ABC’s The Whispers. I enjoyed that show for the most part. Don’t think I would have if I had already read the original. Pay attention to the children people! Being oblivious or dismissive helps no one! ~ 5 stars
Love, love, love this story. It’s so sweet and a bit unexpected. I love the family and how selfless they all are when it comes to going on a rocket. Such love and respect in this family it made my heart warm. ~ 5 stars
The Illustrated Man
Now I want to help the Illustrated Man even more. Where the last story showed the good in humanity, this story shows the bad. ~ 5 stars
To round out this collection, I now understand why the Illustrated Man is still alone. It doesn’t stop me from feeling bad for him and wanting to help, but at what cost?
We didn’t have a traditional book club with this one. We went to Eastern Market in Detroit for a book fair they were having. We around and even talked to some local authors. It was very crowded which was hard for me. I don’t do well in crowds, especially without my husband. He’s 6 foot so I know at least he can see what’s going on in our environment when I can’t. Anyway, it was fun and we checked out the food trucks for our lunch. I got the Nu Grilled Cheese from the Nu Deli truck. I wasn’t able to get a picture since I couldn’t find a place to sit and nobody else was at the same truck as me to help, but it was super yummy! By the time the other ladies got their food I was done with mine (oops) and we sat on the grass to have some discussion.
The book was enjoyed by all, some more than others. My mom is a HUGE sci-fi fan so she finished this one (on time, unlike me) no problem. We all agreed that there is so much in his stories that we can parallel with our world today it’s almost scary. Personally, I’d love to read more of Ray Bradbury’s stories. It was amazing to us all that his stories aged as well as they did. Although some of the tech or the ways of speaking were obviously dated, the overall message of each story is still so relevant.
It was fun to get outside on a beautiful day to have book club. It was unfortunate that it was so crowded, but I wouldn’t mind doing it again. Especially if we did something similar but not during a huge event.
As a reminder, we have book club this Sunday, September 24. We’re reading The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman. I should have a post on book club within a week of our meeting.
I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve read The Illustrated Man or any of our other book club picks. And please chime in on your thoughts of our upcoming book.
Happy Reading my friends!