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Summer Morning, Summer Night
Ray Bradbury
Subterranean Press, 176 pages

Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury is one of the greatest SF and fantasy writers of our time. Born in Waukegan, Illinois, in 1920, he authored such classics of the genre as The Martian Chronicles (1950) and Farenheit 451 (1953) by his early 30s, and continues to produce important work today.
In 1990, while at a summit meeting in New York, Mikhail Gorbachov made a special trip to visit Bradbury, his "favourite author," whose works he claimed to have read in the original versions. Bradbury is American fantasy's great ambassador.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Moby Dick: A Screenplay
SF Site Review: Fahrenheit 451
SF Site Review: Dinosaur Tales
SF Site Review: From the Dust Returned
SF Site Review: Dandelion Wine
SF Site Review: Green Shadows, White Whale
SF Site Review: Ahmed and the Oblivion Machines
SF Site Review: Driving Blind
SF Site Review: Something Wicked This Way Comes
SF Site Review: The Illustrated Man

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Mario Guslandi

Summer Morning, Summer Night Lazy summer days and nights are the common ground for a collection featuring some Ray Bradbury stories from the 50s and a bunch of new short stories (the latter -- alas -- mostly little more than sketchy vignettes).

Summer is the season and Green Town, Illinois, apparently the constant location for stories which may not be equal to Bradbury's masterpieces but which manage to subtly move and think about the secret meaning of human life with its glory and its miseries.

For instance the opening tale "End Of Summer", depicts the unexpected nocturnal activities of a lonely small town teacher, while "The Death Of So-And-So" is a tongue-in-cheek description of one of the favourite topics of conversation among elderly friends meeting after a long time.

"Pumpernickel" shows how a loaf of bread may rekindle memories of lost friends and of a long gone youth. Similarly "Autumn Afternoon" provides a bittersweet meditation on the value (or the lack of it) of reminiscing about past summer seasons.

Bradbury's writing style is always easy and unassuming like a relaxed chat on the porch during a hot summer night, but his yarns go deep down to the core of human frailties, hopes and hidden feelings. Fine examples of his narrative craft are "These Things Happen," a gentle piece describing the unusual friendship between a twenty-four old teacher and one of her young pupils, "Night Meeting" is a little gem conveying the sense of regret left behind by a fleeting, inconclusive encounter between a young man and an attractive girl, and "Arrival And Departure" is the tender portrait of an old couple married for forty-five years experiencing a different kind of day in their quiet regular life.

Sometimes the author's tone becomes humorous and even jocular, as in "The Great Fire," about a young girl in love, and in "The Screaming Woman" a cute demonstration of how children can be more perceptive than adults.

Although the whole of Summer Morning, Summer Night is quite enjoyable, I'd like to mention two stories that I've found especially compelling: the delicate "All In A Summer Night" where a little boy endeavours to cheer up a spinster sadly neglected by the male sex and the splendid "Miss Bidwell," an unforgettable story in which an old woman, turned into a sort of recluse, finally finds again his former lover after forty years. See how a great writer can put into words the truth of human feelings.

Copyright © 2008 by Mario Guslandi

Mario Guslandi lives in Milan, Italy, and is a long-time fan of dark fiction. His book reviews have appeared on a number of genre websites such as The Alien Online, Infinity Plus, Necropsy, The Agony Column and Horrorwold.

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