Tuesday, October 08, 2013

From the Dust Returned

From the Dust Returned (2001) by Ray Bradbury is only sort of a novel. Actually it's a collection of themed short stories, many of which were written decades ago, and many of which have appeared in other Bradbury collections. I bought it because it came highly recommended, but I do feel a bit cheated. I'd rather not have short story collections repeat stories I already have in other collections by the author, and I'd rather not buy something that's represented to be a novel turn out to be a group of old short stories cobbled together with new interconnecting material. Humph!

A big deal is made of the cover art (you can view it here), which was a Charles Addams drawing that illustrated one of these stories when it appeared in a magazine long decades ago. Oddly, that cover art does not appear on the edition I have, which has a red, stylized spider instead. Humph, again!

Bradbury died in 2012 at the age of 91, and I was sad to see him go. He's one of the science fiction authors I began with way back in my childhood. Because we've always been fans of the TV adaptation of The Halloween Tree, which is narrated by Bradbury, I hear this book in Bradbury's voice.

There's a mention of Memphis, TN, on page 14.

from the inside of the book:
They have lived for centuries in a house of legend and mystery in upper Illinois -and they are not like other Midwesterners. Rarely encountered in daylight hours, some of them have survived since before the Sphinx fist sank its paws deep in Egyptian sands. And some sleep in beds with lids.

Now the house is being readied for the gala homecoming that will gather together the far-flung branches of this odd and remarkable clan. But in the midst of eager anticipation, a sense of doom pervades. For the world is changing. And death, no stranger, will always shadow this most singular family...
The review at SF Site says, it "has been hailed as a return to his former stylistic pinnacle. It spans the length of Bradbury's illustrious career, stringing together stories about an unusual misfit "family" of Halloween creatures." Kirkus Reviews closes by calling it "One of his most attractive and satisfying works in quite some time."

Infinity Plus is less enthusiastic, saying,
it is a book of prose that contains six previously published short stories, three new ones, and a goodly number of short (often extremely short and inconsequential) interpolated prose passages that sometimes verge on short-storyhood but are mainly just included for the sake of atmospherics. The book itself is short: many of those 204 smallish pages are blank, and the leading of the type is very generous.
and closes with this:
The overall impression with which one comes away from this book is thus, sadly, that it is a slight work ... and that it's about time to dig out that dusty copy of Bradbury's splendid non-novel Dandelion Wine (1957) and read it yet again.
There's a reading guide here.


  1. I almost never read SF and don't usually like short stories, I prefer hefty novels. That said, I may just look up Dandelion Wine and give it a go.


    1. my favorite bradbury are the martian chronicles & the illustrated man. i loved those!