Sunday, October 21, 2007

Becky Review's Quicker Than The Eye

Bradbury, Ray. Quicker Than The Eye

I've been reading a short story here and there since Thursday (and continuing through today) from Ray Bradbury's collection Quicker Than the Eye. I am not loving it like I did The Martian Chronicles.

The first story, "Unterderseaboat Doktor" was just weird. Weird without being good if you know what I mean. Pointlessly weird.

The second story, "Zaharoff/Richter Mark V" was better. It was oddly amusing. It is about an elite group of architects that routinely plot all the world's calamities just so they can rebuild cities.

"Remember Sascha" was okay for me. It is not gonna be one that I remember forever and ever. But it wasn't bad. Just okay. It's about a young couple madly in love and expecting a baby. It has its odd moments--they hear the baby talking to them--but again it was just okay.

"Another Fine Mess" was like a mediocre Twilight Zone. You know the sort. The kind that you might watch once, but you're not dying to see it in repeats. Slightly odd and nostalgic about old film stars and old Hollywood...but mostly just okay.

"The Electrocution" went way over my head. I admit. I read this one as clueless as can be. I just didn't get anything. It was like one of us (I don't know which) was from another planet. Either the language of the story really is that odd. OR what is most likely, my head wasn't quite functioning properly when I tried to absorb this one. Regardless, it is probably my least favorite of the bunch.

"Hopscotch" is one that I read and promptly forgot. Even reading the first paragraph or two doesn't jot my memory. I guess this means my impressions of this one are mediocre at best. At least I don't remember hating it or being confused.

"The Finnegan" is a weird story about a large creepy human-eating spider. It probably would have made a great radio broadcast with lots of effects and whatnot.

"That Woman on the Lawn" is a pleasantly strange story about a man who lives in a house with a haunted front yard. At some point, he realizes that it is the ghost of his mother--only the ghost is of a very young woman. A woman who hasn't loved and borne a child yet. It's a strange one, no doubt.

"The Very Gentle Murders" is a strange story of an old couple NOT in love with each other. The husband is trying to kill the wife; the wife is trying to kill the husband. They're trying to outwit each other, yet everyone around them seems clueless as to what is going on. It's a slightly irreverant, often humorous, very weird story. But one that unlike "Hopscotch" will apparently stick with me for a while.

"Quicker Than The Eye" is a short story about a magic act. It's okay. Nothing special.

"Dorian In Excelsus" is probably the strongest story in my opinion. It seems creepier and weirder than the rest. And the action seems tighter. If I had to pick a favorite, this one would be a contender. See how it begins: "Good evening. Welcome. I see you have my invitation in your hands. Decided to be brave, did you? Fine. Here we are. Grab onto this." The tall, handsome stranger with the heavenly eyes and the impossibly blond hair handed me a wineglass. "Clean your palate," he said. I took the glass and read the label on the bottle he held in his left hand... Doesn't that opening just hook you?

"No News, Or What Killed the Dog?" is a short story about a family whose dog has died, and they have decided to have a funeral and bury their pet in a pet cemetary. It's okay. Nothing special.

"The Witch Door" is another good story. One of the better ones in my humble opinion. I can almost see it as a radio drama or acted out on a Twilight Zone type tv show.

"The Ghost In the Machine" was one that frankly I could have done without. I just didn't like it. It wasn't awful or anything. I just didn't get anything out of it. I wasn't confused by it. I just didn't care.

"At The End of the Ninth Year" is one that I liked. I can almost see this one acted out as well. As a great little sketch drama students do in class and such. It's about a married couple who love each other yet aren't quite in love with each other anymore. Anyway, it's a story about familiarity and love and commitment and knowing and being yourself.

"Bug" was okay. It's a short story about high school friends who drift apart through the decades. A man known as "Bug" loved to dance. When the narrator runs into him several decades (at least) later, they barely recognize each other. He no longer dances, and he's just ordinary again. Anyway, it's a story about the past and present colliding. And a story about regaining past glory in a way. It was okay for me.

"Once More, Legato" was an okay story for me. I didn't love it or hate it. It is about a "musician" who steals his melodies from the birds outside his house--his window. When the birds migrate, he panics and begins counting the days until their return.

"Exchange" was a clever little story about librarians and their patrons all these years later. About how books are friends. And librarians are great. What's not to love?

"Free Dirt" was okay, but ultimately forgettable.

"Last Rites" is another one I just can't remember. I know I read it, but my mind must have been miles away somewhere.

"The Other Highway" was a good story. I'm glad the book ended with a strong story. I can almost see this one dramatized as well. It's a family story. A man, his wife, and his kids are on a trip and they go off the highway and discover an old road, an old town, an old lifestyle. They contemplate trading their hectic, crazy lives for a more relaxed lifestyle. But ultimately, they head back to the crazy modern world.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I read and enjoyed this book. My favorite is "Hopscotch" - I keep going back and re-reading it. I'd like to hear an audio recording of this story and perhaps some of the others.