I can't understand the reputation this has as a classic. True, at its heart is an intriguing idea: the strange carnival, whose carousel makes the rider older, or younger if travelling backwards. But far too little is done with this idea. Instead, clarity is sacrificed for a sort of poetic effect which, while having some incantatory moments, gets very wearying over a whole book.
Curious, too, for me, is that the actual carnival never really comes to life - unlike, for example, in the recent Night Circus. Instead the focus is on a coming-of-age story of two boys and the philosophising father of one of them. (His musings, stuck in the middle of the book, seem like Bradbury's own, tagged on to little effect.)
The stylistic devices spoil it, for me. There's a lot of repetition. A lot of repetition. Lots of short paragraphs too.
Some very short. You get the idea?
The characters, also, were not as vivid as they might have been: Mr Dark is suitably sinister, but the other carnival characters are mere ciphers whose character we're supposed to grasp from their name alone - the Skeleton, the Witch etc. There are those who love Bradbury, and I can understand how he became attracted to poetry in his later years. But here it seems like he was still finding his way, and I was quite disappointed by the result.