2. Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
Bradbury is a beautiful writer, but I was never really "grabbed" by this book. It is Bradbury's "gathering of dandelions" over the years in Illinois. Written in 1959, they are fictional short stories that are loosely connected together with fantastical elements and related to his growing up in Waukegan, Illinois in 1928. I don't want to discourage anyone from reading it, but because it lacked a plot, it just didn't drive me to keep reading it like many books with a good story. In some ways, it is like Dubliners, but Dubliners was so much more interesting to me!
Here is a brief synopsis:
Although Bradbury is primarily known as a science fiction writer, Dandelion Wine is not a science fiction book. However, it does contain elements of the dark side of human nature and the fantastical magic that permeates the book makes it different from other novels. In his introduction, Bradbury comments that a reviewer once took him to task for not describing Waukegan (Green Town) as an ugly and sometimes depressing town. Bradbury's response is that he was writing from the perspective of a twelve-year-old boy. To children, everything can be magical, and that is the sentiment that Bradbury attempts to bring across in his novel. Furthermore, Bradbury insists that his novel is real and true because he says it is. Even if it is not historically accurate, it is the portrayal of a child's summer. Bradbury believes that because that portrayal is his way of writing his own childhood and is steeped in the poignant memories of his past, it is therefore real. (http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/dandelion/context.html)
Here is a better review by someone who REALLY loves the book and has thought deeply about it. It helped me appreciate the book much more!
Here is the best part of her analysis:
To me, the overarching intent of the book is to remind all us adults that:
* Being alive means maintaining a balance between Discoveries & Revelations and Ceremonies & Rites. Though the latter are important, binding us to our family & our community, our future & our past, it is Discoveries & Revelations that make us think, experience, change, and grow.
* Being alive means living in the present. Even if this means giving away the tokens of a beloved past, as happens in one particularly poignant tale.
* Being alive means being connected with the world - with family, neighbors, your community, the earth. It's no coincidence that the mysterious murderer haunting Douglas Spaulding's Childhood is called The Lonely One.
* Being alive means being able to experience happiness ... not only understanding the nature of happiness, but possessing the wisdom not to let yourself be tricked into pursuing something that can't/won't make you happy. (Dorritt, June 20, 2012)
* Being alive means recognizing the presence of magic in our everyday lives. Because magic is out there ... in the spring of a new pair of tennis shoes, in the mysteries of love, in the essence of Dandelion Wine.