14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Ray Bradbury loves to write stories of small American towns in the Midwest, swathed in colour, magic and sunlight. And that's basically the entire content of "Summer Morning, Summer Night" -- exquisitely written little nuggets of ordinary experiences, with an element of magic and mystery woven into them like golden threads.
A number are vignettes without much actual plot -- a young woman going for a nighttime stroll meets a lover, a loaf of bread brings back memories of childhood summers, a teenage girl have has first kiss with a new boyfriend, an aged woman looks through old calendars full of forgotten memories, old people recount important deaths, and a middle-aged man falls in love with a beautiful young woman he sees in passing.
Then there are the full-blown short stories. Here a chaste romance blossoms between a teacher and her brilliant young student, a beautiful woman's memory lives on long after her death, an elderly woman's long-lost lover may have returned, a spinster seeks perfume, and two old sisters make a secret "love potion" with some unwanted results.
There's no straightforwardly fantastical elements in this book, but there are moments of horror and comedy. On one hand, we have stories where a young girl hears a woman shrieking underground, and a serial killer's excited chase of a woman he's stalking. On the other, a family's scheme to get a pretty cousin married off backfires, and a couple of sweet old people have a day out shopping and having fun.
"Summer Morning, Summer Night" is sort of a Ray Bradbury mosaic -- lots of little fragments making up a sun-filled, warm, shimmering summertime filled with shady trees and warm nights. It's a little like visiting Bradbury's nameless small town for a week at its most lovely, absorbing some of the history of the people there, and then drifting back out.
One thing has never changed is Bradbury's vivid, lush prose ("they were a trio of black velvet and white ermine conspirators, half moon, half shadow"), which is steeped in nature metaphors ("as fine as a maple leaf between winds that blew just right"). His writing is precise enough that he can tackle a taboo subject -- such as love between a teacher and student -- without inspiring outrage.
And he drops in plenty of symbolism -- new shoes, dismantled porches, ribboned hats, first kisses ("it tasted like apricats and fresh apples and as water tastes when you rise at night...").
As the final touch, Bradbury's characters are a colourful, varied lot -- teenage girls, serial killers, legendary beauties, middle-aged men and small children vowing to never forget this summer. Bradbury seems a bit preoccupied with mortality, since many of his characters here are troubled by life and love in their middle or twilight years -- except maybe the Alexanders, who seem happy to frolic into old age together.
Warm, mellow and sweet as an apple, "Summer Morning, Summer Night" is a series of tiny portraits of small town life. But Ray Bradbury manages some surprises along the way.
on 2 July 2013
"Summer Morning, Summer Night" is an unexpected gift, a treasure trove amost as intoxicating as Ray Bradbury's legendary Dandelion Wine. Green Town, Illinois stands at the very heart of Ray Bradbury Country, a lovingly re-imagined version of the author's native Waukegan. It served as the setting for the Bradbury classics Dandelion Wine, Something Wicked This Way Comes and Farewell Summer, and some short stories as well. In this book Bradbury returns to the signature locale of Green Town to illuminate some of its previously hidden corners, and in doing so, he reaffirms his position as the undisputed master of a unique fictional universe.
In the book's 27 new and old stories and vignettes (17 have never been published before) there is a gallery of characters brought vividly to life by Bradbury's indefinable magic. A pair of elderly sisters whose love potion carries an unexpected consequence; a lonely teacher who discovers love on Green Town's nocturnal streets; a ten-year-old girl who literally unearths the intended victim of a vicious crime; and an aging man who recreates his past with the aid of a loaf of pumpernickel bread.
These potent, engaging, evocative, and deeply felt stories reflect the characteristic virtues that have always marked the best of Bradbury's fiction - optimism, unabashed nostalgia, openness to experience, and in particular - an abiding generosity of spirit.
"Summer Morning, Summer Night" resonates with a timeless power, and its people, places, images and events will linger in your mind for years to come.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 2 October 2011
Ray bradbury is my favourite author. I have loved his books since...gosh :far too long! And amongst my most treasured possessions are "the Stories of Ray Bradbury " volumes 1&2 that i treated myself to in my first year of university. THIS book is something that that any true fan has to get, but be warned : of itself it is slight , it is just fragments of stories , it is not really a collection of short stories that will live long in the memory.In a way, it reminded me a bit of the Beatles Anthology in that it is bits and pieces only ; and really It is best thought of as equivalent to demos and b sides. That said ,it has echoes of what the great man can do, and for that alone, it is worth having.