Why I Read It: I’m participating in Little Red Reviewer’s Vintage Scifi Month, and this fit.
Where I Got It: The Library.
Who I Recommend This To: In many regards, this is a coming of age story, and if you enjoy those, then this would probably suit you.
Narrator: Full Cast – The Colonial Radio Theatre
Publisher: Blackstone Audio (2007)
Length: 2 CDs
Dandelion Wine was first published in 1957 and is a fix-up novella of other loosely connected short stories, many of which had been previously published. However, upon listening to it, I could not tell that it was written in such a way, which shows Ray Bradbury‘s craftsmanship in sticking them all together into a single fluid story. The setting is 1928 Green Town, IL. Douglas Spaulding is a 12 year old who has the full run of his town and the magic of youth in the perfect summer. This book is divided into 2 parts. Part I is all about the wonder of running through the woods on a hot day, of the fun of collecting dandelions for senior citizens to turn into intoxicants, and of the play of pretending fireflies are more than they are. There’s also best friends, tom girls, new sneakers, listening to heroic tales from old men, and the first crush on the town’s young librarian. Part II, however, is darker and is about realizing that things change, not always for the good, and yet life still goes on.
This tale is 90% mainstream fiction, with a slight, nebulous time travel element; hence, it is classified as science fiction. I had not heard the details of this tale before and I was expecting much more science fiction, or at least Outer Limits type plot. Alas, no. The story was well written for its brevity and I enjoyed certain elements of it, such as Doug’s shy interactions with the librarian and his fascination with a new pair of sneakers. However, this work just didn’t do anything special for me. I found myself waiting for something to happen in the story, and when it finally did, the events were not resolved, but rather the story turned into a Lesson, a lesson about growing up, letting go, and moving on. I know Ray Bradbury, and probably this work in particular, holds a lot of magic for many folks. I just am not one of those folks.
The audio production and performance by The Colonial Radio Theatre was excellent. There were sound effects and various narrators to pull off the cast of characters. My only slight criticism is that at times I had to turn the sound down a bit because of the excited sound effects and then turn up the volume later to catch the conversation between two characters.
What I Disliked: The lack of a strong scifi element; story became a Lesson and stopped being a tale.
This month I am participating in two reading events that this fits into: Little Red Reviwer’s Vintage Scifi Month and Stainless Steel Droppings’ Science Fiction Experience (which runs to the end of February). Make sure to check out both blogs for further science fiction treats from around the blogosphere.
I am also including this in the weekly Read & Review Hop hosted by On Starships and Dragonwings. Make sure to stop by her website to catch more great book reviews.