Monday, November 11, 2013

The October Country by Ray Bradbury

The October CountryRay Bradbury's second short story collection is back in print, its chilling encounters with funhouse mirrors, parasitic accident-watchers, and strange poker chips intact. Both sides of Bradbury's vaunted childhood nostalgia are also on display, in the celebratory "Uncle Einar," and haunting "The Lake," the latter a fine elegy to childhood loss. This edition features a new introduction by Bradbury, an invaluable essay on writing, wherein the author tells of his "Theater of Morning Voices," and, by inference, encourages you to listen to the same murmurings in yourself. And has any writer anywhere ever made such good use of exclamation marks!?

Ray Bradbury is known mostly for his sci-fi works, so it was a surprise for me to find that he had written a collection of scary stories. Each one, it turns out, is a complex little jewel that burrows under your skin.

Like all story collections, The October Country has some very good stories and some which are not quite so good. However, even the ones that are a bit less interesting are well written and full of suspense. The ones I enjoyed most were the ones that have an otherworldliness to them, with a deep sense of isolation. Those, for me, were the ones that made the most impact. In particular, I loved “Jack-In-The-Box”, since it felt like the protagonist really was completely alone in a strange world.

If you love short story collections that leave a chill in the air, then I highly recommend this book. Some of these stories will linger in your mind long after you’ve finished reading them.

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