I’m not entirely sure why I chose to read Dandelion Wine but I am very glad that I did. The book is a collection of short stories and yet much more at the same time. It is more like a series of vignettes that occur within one loosely organized plot and it is utterly delightful.
Dandelion Wine, according to the author’s forward (and my memory), began as a writing exercise that Bradbury would do to persevere through stints of tough writing. He created the mythical Greentown, Illinois which is based on his own hometown of Waukegan, IL. Greentown is the setting for the adventures of a twelve-year old boy named Douglas Spalding. Douglas is a representation of Bradbury and his own youth. Each story or vignette seems to have grown from a Bradbury memory. As a result, the book reads like Ray Bradbury is your grandfather and tells you about what it was like to grow up in 1928. The nostalgia in the book never comes across as forced or troglodytic. It feels warm and content.
The best part of the book is the writing itself. The manner in which Bradbury describes a walk in the forest or the fear of walking alone at night is so enthralling that I had no option but capitulation. My personal favorite story involved three women walking to a movie and discuss a recent murder in the town. It is dark by the time the walk home and they succumb to their fears so thoroughly that it left my heart racing.
This book is a must read for anyone who feels nostalgic for yesteryear but doesn’t necessarily want to embrace luddism. The prose is simple yet beautiful. Ray Bradbury was an American treasure and this book is about what he treasured.