Wednesday, July 25, 2012

TLC BOOK TOUR and REVIEW: Shadow Show: All-New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury


"What do you imagine when you hear the name" . . . Bradbury?

You might see rockets to Mars. Or bizarre circuses where otherworldly acts whirl in the center ring. Perhaps you travel to a dystopian future, where books are set ablaze . . . or to an out-of-the-way sideshow, where animated illustrations crawl across human skin. Or maybe, suddenly, you're returned to a simpler time in small-town America, where summer perfumes the air and life is almost perfect . . . "almost."

Ray Bradbury--peerless storyteller, poet of the impossible, and one of America's most beloved authors--is a literary giant whose remarkable career has spanned seven decades. Now twenty-six of today's most diverse and celebrated authors offer new short works in honor of the master; stories of heart, intelligence, and dark wonder from a remarkable range of creative artists.

Paperback, 464 pages
Published July 10th 2012 by William Morrow Paperbacks
ISBN  0062122681 (ISBN13: 9780062122681)

My Thoughts

Normally when I do a "review", one of the first things that I do is to introduce the author and their bio. However this book is a collection of short stories, a book of many authors. But all of those authors are serving tribute to a man they all respect. Ray Bradbury. So I thought this time I would instead talk a little bit about the man that this book honors.

Ray Bradbury (1920-2012) was a well-respected author in the fantasy, horror and mystery fiction genres. Credited with writing 27 novels and over 600 short stories, Bradbury is most well-known for his novel Fahrenheit 451, and for his story collections in The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man. A number of his works were adapted to film, including Fahrenheit 451, and a short story titled I Sing the Body Electric, which was adapted for the 100th episode of The Twilight Zone.

My first thought at looking at the book cover is that it has a very "Ray Bradbury" feel. Cartoonish drawings of spacemen and radios and circus tents and hieroglyphics and bones. It's fun, creepy, quietly alluding to the stories held between the covers.

The book is a collection of 27 short stories by well-known authors like Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, Alice Hoffman, Audrey Niffenegger, and one of my favorites, Robert McCammon. They each pay tribute by offering up a short story "inspired" by Ray Bradbury. Each story includes a little postscript explaining the idea behind the story, or to expound on what Bradbury has meant to them and how he has inspired them.

Author Dan Chaon tells of how he wrote as a 12-year-old to Bradbury about his dreams of being a writer, and that this began decade-long relationship during which he would send Bradbury his writings and Bradbury would critique them and encourage him. Their relationship came to an end after Chaon went to college, and upon learning of this Bradbury chastised him in a letter:
"Why are you going to college? If you aren't careful, it will cut across your writing time, stop your writing stories. Is that what you want? Think. Do you want to be a writer for a lifetime? What will you take in college that will help you be a writer?"
Bradbury's attitude regarding college seems well documented. Even Wikipedia states:
He told The Paris Review, "You can’t learn to write in college. It’s a very bad place for writers because the teachers always think they know more than you do—and they don’t." 
Unfortunately I am only about halfway through this collection of short stories, but so far I am really enjoying it! There are some really intriguing ideas hidden in these stories. "The Girl in the Funeral Parlor" begs the question: What if you met the love of your life after they had died, and you missed your chance with them? "By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain" is a sweet and sad story of childhood. I loved the innocence of childhood friends Gail and Joel. "Little America" was another favorite, keeping you guessing, trying to sort out just what is going on. I have to agree with what the author Chaon was told by Bradbury though. Bradbury told him that the story was too short.
"It is an idea in search of conflict, but you are close to finding a short story-- some nice ideas there. Develop them!"
I felt the same way about this story. It just left me filled with questions. It opened the door onto a great story without letting me come inside and experience it.

The editors refer in their introduction to a form of storytelling known as "shadow theater", which is as they state:
" art from which this anthology derives its name. Utilizing paper cutouts held between a light source and a translucent screen, shadow puppetry dates back more than two thousand years...And like the fantastic modern myths of Bradbury himself, shadow theater also portrayed fantastic stories of fable and folklore. It's moving figures became shadowy metaphors for ancient myths and modern truths..."
What a perfect way to describe these short stories!

Ironically even though Ray Bradbury just passed away June 5, 2012, this collection includes an introduction by him. He was well aware of this tribute collection and refers to himself as the Papa welcoming all of his children home to the reunion.

My final word:  The title of this collection is very apropos. You do have the feeling when you read these stories that you are watching shadows, blurry figures dancing on a paper screen. How funny that illusion and allusion are so close in terms, because within these pages they are lovers, blending and melding and becoming one. I happily recommend this book to all fans of sci-fi, horror, and everything Ray Bradbury!

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for allowing me to be part of this tour:

Check out the master schedule for the book tour:

Thursday, July 19th: A Reader of Fictions
Monday, July 23rd: The Blog of Lit Wits
Tuesday, July 24th: the state that i am in
Wednesday, July 25th: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World
Friday, July 27th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Monday, July 30th: The Road to Here
Tuesday, July 31st: Between the Covers
Thursday, August 2nd: Tiffany’s Bookshelf
Monday, August 6th: The Ranting Dragon
Tuesday, August 7th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Wednesday, August 8th: Shall Write
Thursday, August 9th: Book Addict Katie
Monday, August 13th: Cold Read

My Rating: 8.5 out of 10


I received a copy of this book to review through TLC Book Tours and the publisher, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel.


Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

I hope you continue to enjoy this collection! Thanks for being on the tour.

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