From the Dust Returned by Ray Bradbury
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Weird and Wonderful
I really enjoyed these stories of the House and its Family: the influence on /of Charles Addams is readily apparent, which I loved, and I really enjoyed the ambiguity and open-ended nebulous feel of the stories. I like how the shorts that stand alone have been woven into the book with small interlinking chapters.
Timothy and Cecy are my favourite characters throughout the book, although there is no coherent plot except for Timothy’s gradual growing up and growing into his own path of life.
Standout chapters/stories for me were the ghastly passenger on the Orient Express, the wild cousins trapped in Grandpère’s head, Cecy wanting to fall in love, and Uncle Einar the winged man.
The ghastly passenger was my favourite as a story, and a concept. I loved the idea of feeding on belief, how a spectral apparition is solid and real but fades and withers in the face of relentless rationality that sucks the (un)life from it. It read to me like a love story with folklore and folk-belief, especially those things by which we are most frightened, mourning its loss as an enriching part of childhood and human experience. That England was its saving grace, a place where such beliefs linger and are nurtured, made me really sad. That’s a very idealised view of England which I’m not sure is true or ever was true, but I’d like it to be. England was as ‘rational’ as Germany etc at the time the story is set, so I didn’t think that worked more than as authorial wish-fulfilment. It would be nice to think that folklore (and folk horror) is now appreciated here again, though!
I think this ties in with Timothy’s childhood at the House: growing up spooky but choosing to live a full life ‘like others do’ resonated with me. You can be enriched by an awareness of death, mortality and immortality, and all the things in the world and beyond it which defy explanation, but you do have to choose how you live your own life, too. There’s a sense in which you leave these things behind and a sense in which you always carry them with you, both at once.
Some of these tales are not for everyone, I think, and not all of them struck a chord with me. I really liked this as a whole collection though, as (deliberately) disjointed and incomplete-jigsaw a book this is!
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2 thoughts on “#AmReading: From The Dust Returned by Ray Bradbury”
Bradbury is one of my favorite writers and From The Dust Returned is one of my favorite story collections of his. He’s a master at combining childlike wonder with painful nostalgia and mourning and I think his strongest writers emerges whenever he takes on the supernatural and weird
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Agreed!! I love his style.