Dandelion Wineby Ray Bradbury Published 01 Jan 1973
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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.
"Dandelion Wine" Reviews
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.
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.
"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
1 quart yellow dandelion blossoms, well rinsed
1 gallon boiling water
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 orange, sliced
1 lemon slice
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.*
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.
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.
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....
¡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.