Dandelion Wine, Ray Bradbury, Doubleday & Company, 1957, 239 pp
Every time I start a book by Ray Bradbury, I groan and fume, then get bored and irritable. His sentences are so bad. I want to get out my red pen and act like a high school teacher. The characters are drawn in such an odd way that as a reader I get self conscious. I don't care about these everyday people, but then they start voicing those slightly skewed Bradbury thoughts and I recognize those ideas as ones I've had myself.
Eventually I arrive in the world he has created, whether it is Mars or the Midwest. I can see, hear, smell and taste it. In Dandelion Wine, it is the summer world of a small Midwestern town; the summer as seen through the eyes of twelve-year-old Douglas Spaulding.
As he gets his new summer sneakers and races around town, down into the ravine, across new-mown lawns, with his brother and his friends, he sees the young, the old, the eccentric, the sorrowful. He begins to get the whole picture of life because he is on the cusp between child and young adult. He is not entirely happy about it all.
By the end I am left with recovered thoughts and pictures from my twelfth summer. I feel that tarnished innocence, that mixed feeling about adults, that urge to grow up stalled by the wish the remain a child.
Truly, I am not sure how he does it.
(Dandelion Wine is available in paperback at Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)