From Publishers Weekly
This poignant, wise but slight "extension" of the indefatigable Bradbury's semiautobiographical Dandelion Wine
picks up the story of 12-year-old Douglas Spaulding in October of 1928, when the warmth of summer still clings to Green Town, Ill. As in his episodic 1957 novel, Bradbury evokes the rhythms of a long-gone smalltown America with short, swift chapters that build to a lyrical meditation on aging and death. Playing at war, the imaginative Douglas and his friends target the town's elderly men, and the outraged 81-year-old bachelor Calvin C. Quartermain attempts to organize a counterattack against the boys' mischief. Rebelling against their elders—and the specter of age and death—Douglas and his gang steal the old men's chess pieces before deciding that Time, as embodied by the courthouse clock, is their true nemesis. The story turns on a gift of birthday cake that triggers Douglas and Quartermain's mutual recognition: "He had seen himself
peer forth from the boy's eyes." Soon thereafter, Douglas's first kiss and new, acute awareness of girls serves as the harbinger of his inevitable adulthood. Bradbury's mature but fresh return to his beloved early writing conveys a depth of feeling. Look for a Q&A with Bradbury in the Aug. 21 issue.
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Ray Bradbury, now in his mid-80s, explains in his postscript that the original Dandelion Wine
manuscript included much of the material in Farewell Summer
. His publisher at the time thought the book too long, and advised Bradbury to shelve the latter half. He certainly took the advice to heart. Fifty years later, here comes this satisfying denouement, one that speaks to themes of youth, aging, memory, and regrets. Reviewers praise Farewell Summer
as an ideal swan song for a storied career that produced award-winning works like Fahrenheit 451
and Something Wicked This Way Comes
and earned Bradbury the prestigious National Medal of Arts.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.