Happy Friday, everyone! With my boys out of school, I've been thinking about summer reading this month. I was the kind of kid who had my nose in a book all summer long. I didn't play sports, I didn't go on fabulous vacations. And in my junior high days, we didn't have the electronic distractions that kids have now. So, I read. (Yeah, I watched bad TV too, but mostly I read.) Feeling nostalgic for those days, I've chosen Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles as my coffehouse entry for today.
Bradbury called it "a book of stories pretending to be a novel." This blurb from Wikipedia explains the format better than I can: "The Martian Chronicles follows a "future history" structure. The stories,
complete in themselves, come together as episodes in a larger sequential
narrative framework. The overall structure is in three parts, punctuated by two
catastrophes: the near-extinction of the Martians and the parallel
near-extinction of the human race."
I think I read and reread this book every summer from junior high until after college. Written in the forties and fifties, when 1999 was a distant sparkle in the future, it was dated even when I picked it up for the first time. Martians? Please. But I found the stories to be so compelling, so poignant, so understatedly sinister at times that the hokey science was easy to ignore. At their most basic, the stories examine the good and the bad of what it means to be 'human.' But the book is also a commentary on what makes a better society, what Americans (even back then) were doing wrong, and the lessons we dumb future-people might learn from the Martians. (Sadly, I suspect we haven't.) This is the book that turned me into a Ray Bradbury fan for life, and I am enjoying rereading it now more than ever.
And now, I'm off to get my coffee and read some enlightening cephalopod book reviews!