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  1. Alexander, Lloyd — The Black Cauldron
  2. Anthony, Piers — Letters to Jenny
  3. Cooper, Susan — Over Sea, Under Stone
  4. Proulx, Annie — Close Range: Wyoming Stories
  5. Kincaid, Jamaica — Lucy
  6. Christie, Agatha — The Unexpected Guest
  7. Dick, Philip K. — Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
  8. Cooper, Susan — The Dark Is Rising
  9. Cooper, Susan — Greenwitch
  10. Shaffer, Peter — Amadeus
  11. Anonymous — Go Ask Alice
  12. Cooper, Susan — The Grey King
  13. Martin, Steve — Shopgirl
  14. Cooper, Susan — Silver on the Tree
  15. Gaiman, Neil — Stardust
  16. Gaiman, Neil — Coraline
  17. Le Guin, Ursula — A Wizard of Earthsea
  18. Le Guin, Ursula — The Tombs of Atuan
  19. Le Guin, Ursula — The Farthest Shore
  20. Le Guin, Ursula — Tehanu
  21. Merton, Thomas — The Seven Storey Mountain: An Autobiography of Faith
  22. Alexander, Lloyd — The Castle of Llyr
  23. Zelazny, Roger — Lord of Light
  24. Card, Orson Scott — Ender's Game
  25. Clarke, Arthur C. — Childhood's End
  26. Grahame, Kenneth — The Wind in the Willows
  27. Dahl, Roald — James and the Giant Peach
  28. Lewis, C.S. — Out of the Silent Planet
  29. Lewis, C.S. — Perelandra
  30. Milne, A.A. — Winnie-the-Pooh
  31. Card, Orson Scott — Speaker for the Dead
  32. Bester, Alfred — The Stars My Destination
  33. Greene, Graham — The Power and the Glory
  34. Gaiman, Neil — Neverwhere
  35. Ballard, J.G. — The Drowned World
  36. Ballard, J.G. — Crash
  37. Joyce, James — The Dubliners
  38. Le Guin, Ursula — Tales from Earthsea
  39. Le Guin, Ursula — The Other Wind
  40. Asimov, Isaac — The Robots of Dawn
  41. Dick, Philip K. — A Scanner Darkly
  42. Stewart, George R. — Earth Abides
  43. du Bois, William Pène — The Twenty-One Balloons
  44. Wells, H.G. — The Time Machine
  45. Toole, John Kennedy — A Confederacy of Dunces
  46. Silverberg, Robert — The Book of Skulls
  47. Bradbury, Ray — Something Wicked This Way Comes

Ten, fifteen years—or however long it's been since I read Fahrenheit 451—is too long between Bradbury books. He is a fantastic storyteller.

Growing up I enjoyed the Disney movie version of Something Wicked This Way Comes, starring Jason Robards and Jonathan Pryce. (I wish I could watch it again now!) So when I saw this book at a used book sale some years ago, I snatched it up. I've been meaning to read it in October ever since, but my intentions have a way of ending up by the wayside.

I relished nearly every moment of this book. Sure, the language can be a bit old fashioned at times, but this actually lends it a certain charm, and the story is so captivating, it would take more than a few anachronistic turns of phrase to derail it.

There is one passage that spoke quite vividly to me, which I want to share in its entirety:

"…Now, look, since when did you think being good meant being happy?"

"Since always."

"Since now learn otherwise. Sometimes the man who looks happiest in town, with the biggest smile, is the one carrying the biggest load of sin. There are smiles and smiles; learn to tell the dark variety from the light. The seal-barker, the laugh-shouter, half the time he's covering up. He's had his fun and he's guilty. And men do love sin, Will, oh how they love it, never doubt, in all shapes, sizes, colors, and smells. Times come when troughs, not tables, suit our appetites. Hear a man too loudly praising others, and look to wonder if he didn't just get up from the sty. On the other hand, that unhappy, pale, put-upon man walking by, who looks all guilt and sin, why, often that's your good man with a capital G, Will. For being good is a fearful occupation; men strain at it and sometimes break in two. I've known a few. You work twice as hard to be a farmer as to be his hog. I suppose it's thinking about trying to be good makes the crack run up the wall one night. A man with high standards, too, the least hair falls on him sometimes wilts his spine. He can't let himself alone, won't lift himself off the hook if he falls just a breath from grace.

"Oh, it would be lovely if you could just be fine, act fine, not think of it all the time. But it's hard, right? with the last piece of lemon cake waiting in the icebox, middle of the night, not yours, but you lie awake in a hot sweat for it, eh? do I need tell you? Or, a hot spring day, noon, and there you are chained to your school desk and away off there goes the river, cool and fresh over the rock-fall. Boys can hear clear water like that miles away. So, minute by minute, hour by hour, a lifetime, it never ends, never stops, you got the choice this second, now this next, and the next after that, be good, be bad, that's what the clock ticks, that's what it says in the ticks. Run swim, or stay hot, run eat or lie hungry. So you stay, but once stayed, Will, you know the secret, don't you? don't think of the river again. Or the cake. Because if you do, you'll go crazy. Add up all the rivers never swum in, cakes never eaten, and by the time you get my age, Will, it's a lot missed out on. But then you console yourself, thinking, the more times in, the more times possibly drowned, or choked on lemon frosting. But then, through plain dumb cowardice, I guess, maybe you hold off from too much, wait, play it safe.

"Look at me: married at thirty-nine, Will, thirty-nine! But I was so busy wrestling myself two falls out of three, I figured I couldn't marry until I had licked myself good and forever. Too late, I found you can't wait to become perfect, you got to go out and fall down and get up with everybody else. …"


I'm quickly approaching my reading goal for the year. I've already got my next two books lined up, but I'm thinking maybe I shoud put some thought into my fiftieth book. Do I go with A Canticle for Leibowitz, which has seemed more inviting since reading The Book of Skulls? Perhaps one of my favorite authors, Le Guin (The Dispossessed) or Lewis (That Hideous Strength)? I could play with numbers and read Dos Passos' Numero Uno or split the difference with my favorite number and Catch-22. Maybe I choose a sci-fi classic such as Frederik Pohl's Gateway or Gregory Benford's Timescape…or Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Or do I treat myself and buy something special for the occasion, maybe something off my wishlist? Choices, choices, choices. I'm looking forward to choosing.

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
am0
Oct. 31st, 2006 06:22 am (UTC)
Something
I always thought you hated that picture. Any time I'd put it on, you'd complain or depart. With any luck I've got it on tape here, but if we're not lucky it'll be a Beta tape. I haven't seen it on cable for a long time, though this is the season for it. Maybe I'll scan for it.

It's about time you read a fantasy by Charles de Lint. There are several easy ones you could start with, like "Into the Green," but I'd suggest going to one that's both more fun and more work, "The Little Country" ... and you could also visit some of the places mentioned in the story, like Land's End or, even better, Mousehole, both in Cornwall. And you'd get two stories in a single book. Or, if you want to get into one of his urban fantasies, there's always "Memory & Dream" or even "Someplace to be Flying" in which you can meet the crow girls: "A kid. Skinny and monochrome and not much to her: raggedy blue-black hair, dark complexion, black clothes, and combat boots. There seemed to be a cape fluttering up behind her like a sudden spread of black wings, there one moment, gone the next, and then she really was just a kid, standing there, her weight on one leg, a switchblade held casually in a dark hand."
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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