Tag Archives: ray bradbury

The Monday Book: FAREWELL SUMMER by Ray Bradbury

farewell-summer-ray-bradburyBradbury is one of my all-time favorite authors, even though he breaks all the rules of what I normally like to read.

He isn’t about character development or plot, and one of the reasons people have a hard time adapting his books to TV or Movies or Stage Plays (witness The Martian Chronicles and Something Wicked This Way Comes) is that not much happens. What does happen is subtle. I mean, think about it, humans land on Mars and the theme of Chronicles is how it makes humans feel and act to have done that.

When the wind blows in Bradbury’s books, it is action, event, and plot development. His winds don’t blow, they dance, sprinkle the dust of mummies into towns, awaken strangeness, extend foggy hands to pull you into graveyards and make you explore your dark side. They might even slap you off a cliff, but they never just blow. And yet, that’s all that happens for three chapters: Bradbury describes the effect of the wind on people – mostly young boys and those who would force them to return to school at the end of summer: the Evil Old Ones who battle for control of the clocks.

I don’t know any other authors who can write such mundane clichés with so much beauty and elegance, you go back and reread the sentences for the joy of them.

Farewell Summer is actually the sequel to a book I didn’t get into all that much of Bradbury’s, mostly because it was written so much from a boy’s perspective that it left no room for a girl to say “Hey, me too! I want more childhood and to be grown-up at the same time, too!”

But that’s fair enough. How can anyone stay feminist-annoyed at an author who writes such incredible openings as this one in Chapter 19:

Grandpa’s library was a fine dark place bricked with books, so anything could happen there and always did. All you had to do was pull a book from the shelf and open it and suddenly the dark was not so dark anymore.

Yes, okay, just give me some more sentences and let me slide under the spell of his poetry where nothing happens except the wind blows and school lets out for summer. It’s lovely.

 

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Filed under Big Stone Gap, book reviews, bookstore management, humor, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, publishing, reading, Scotland, Uncategorized, VA, writing, YA fiction

Small Town Writer Tribes

The bookstore, like every small town shop, rejoices in several networks and tribal affiliations. The tribe of writers is just one of these. Today I present three members who have recently published their own work–resulting in some very diverse stories, now available on-line.

Joann Lee

Joann’s mom is the lady my friend Elizabeth and I bought our goats from. (Welcome to the networking hotbed of rural living!) Joann lives where people tend to believe her lifestyle is not okay and theirs to comment on; she balances daily between being herself and flying below the radar. It comes out in her work, a romance about two women from very different backgrounds spending the summer at the beach.

Broken Star is available from jms-books.com.

Sheila Mayes

Sheila is from Pennington Gap and has written a novel based on real events, the story of a young girl from Afghanistan who struggles to get an education in America. In her words, the book “was important, but not a priority. As I was writing, Malala, a 15-year-old Pakistani girl, was shot in the head on the way home from school by the Taliban. My writing hit fast forward, the book became a priority and I completed it in March 2013. I am only one person, but I knew I had to do something to help end the violence against women all over the world.”

Sheila is donating a  portion of her e-book’s sales to the Malala Fund to help educate and end violence toward women. Sheila is on Facebook.

Michael Samerdyke

Michael is the writing group coordinator at our bookstore; if you’ve read Little Bookstore, he’s the one who started the group and has nurtured it these past five years. He writes lovely, strange short stories that range from hearts-ripped-out-of-bodies horror, to ripping through your heart with empathy at his nuanced portrayals of how people interact. His snowmen dance, his cat people long for more than blood. http://www.lulu or Barnes & Noble on-line carry Mike’s e-books, both collections of short stories linked by a framing story.

In Featured Creatures: a Phantasmagoria, space invaders, experiments run amok, rampaging dinosaurs and other horrors parade across the Star-Lite Drive-In’s screen for the greatest summer film fest ever. In The Dream Cabinet of Dr. Kino, the mysterious doc travels from town to town showing visions of mad scientists and monsters, vampires and werewolves, and other horrors in his cabinet.

Enjoy!

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Filed under book reviews, publishing, small town USA, Uncategorized

Twenty Shades of Grey

Twenty shades of grey: that about sums up the four hours we spent driving the Natchez Trace Parkway this morning, from Franklin, TN to Tupelo, MS. That and the rain pounding its merry tattoo on our car’s roof…. if you’ve ever read Ray Bradbury’s stories about Venus, you’ll understand how we were beginning to feel.

It takes a strong marriage to survive four hours on the Parkway in December during a downpour. Jack and I are still speaking to one another, and we count this as good.

But it was all worth it for the bookstores we visited in Tupelo, two charming places of very different approaches and attitude. Greatest Hits is a bookstore-cum-used movies, CDs and games outlet run by Joe. He opened the place three and a half years ago and is going strong. His store is upbeat and messy, like himself. (Frankly, if Joe doesn’t drive a VW bus, he should.)

We bounced across the street to a local diner, then made a beeline for the Wise Old Owl, a messy little paperback bookstore that’s been in business more than fifteen years. Jennifer, the woman running it now bought out her parents about two years ago. The snakes-and-ladders shelving arrangement kept dumping me back in westerns, but Jennifer was a hoot (sorry) to talk to. As with Joe, discussion quickly turned to a favorite subject of used book shop keepers: how do you keep the swap credit within genres, so all the trade-ins aren’t romances and the take-outs sci fi and fantasy?

We spent over an hour each with Joe and Jennifer, talking shop. Joe had no idea what he was getting into when he opened his shop–and like Jack and me, he’d pulled a couple of stunts to keep himself open. Like taking a stack of his flyers down to the Barnes and Noble on the bypass, and putting one on the windshield of each car. Go, Joe!!! Jennifer, having practically grown up in her parents’ shop, knew more about the business when she started. But she told us something interesting: she has no advertising budget.

More and more, I’m convinced that the things business centers tell you are essential, are really just convenient to them. 14 years later, Jennifer is still there, sans marketing plan. Jack and I started with no marketing plan, and here we are, happy, healthy and still in business five years on.

So much for experts. Perhaps experts only want to make more people who look like themselves.

Tomorrow we conquer Oxford, MS and Memphis, TN. I wonder if they’ll notice….

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