Monday, September 19, 2011

Reflections: Driving Blind

Adam C. Zern shares his thoughts on Ray Bradbury's short story collection Driving Blind:

"Due to so many books being written each year and by so many different authors, I often find myself shying away from reading multiple books by the same author.  I think there is value in spending precious reading time with a diversified group of authors because they all, by nature of their individuality, bring their own peculiar set of knowledge and experience.  Yet, every once in a little while, an author so impresses me I'm willing to spend a hugely disproportionate amount of time with their work in comparison to other authors.  For me, one of those authors is Ray Bradbury.  I have read many of his books; I loved most of them and hated none of them.  I find his imagination, his characters, his stories, and his prose so compelling, inventive, and entertaining that I have gone back to him again and again and fully expect to continue to do so in the future.

Driving Blind is the third collection of short stories I have read from Ray Bradbury.  Although I felt it was the weakest of the three, The Illustrated Man and The October Country are the other two, it still was worth reading.  Most of the stories in Driving Blind are far less fantastical than he seems wont to write.  It could be seen as an interesting change of pace for him, but I felt it made many of his stories less intriguing and less memorable.  There are several stories from The Illustrated Man especially I will never forget, and they were based heavily in science fiction or in some other kind of fantasy element.

Yet, as much as I liked his other collection of short stories better, I had to still admire Bradbury for what he's best at.  He is a wonderful writer, and he provides some great stories within this collection.  The dark, domestic tale Fee Fie Foe Fum is twisted and extremely entertaining.  House Divided is probably one of the most honest narratives I've read of a child coming into adolescence.  It's so true it made me feel uncomfortable.  There are certainly others worth mentioning, but to say the collection as a whole is worth reading is sufficient.

I have yet to read a bad Bradbury book.  Driving Blind is no exception.  It's not his best work.  But one of Bradbury's 'so-so' works of fiction tramples into dust most other contemporary writing.  He very deservedly claims one of my most favorite authors honor, and I look forward to the next book I read of his."

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Reflections: The Candy Bombers

Adam C. Zern shares a few insights into Andrei Cherny's The Candy Bombers:

"I've only cried while reading two books.  One of those books took me completely by surprise.  I have long been a huge Leon Uris fan.  I have read every single one of his books (some of them great, some good, and some quite bad).  While reading Armageddon, his historical novel of post World War 2 Berlin, I was first introduced to the Berlin Airlift.  I had never heard of the event up to that point, which is quite sad.  One aspect of the Berlin Airlift that most impressed me, and ended up making me cry, was the story of American pilots creating makeshift parachutes, attaching them to small packages of candy, and dropping them out of their airplanes as they flew over the children of Berlin.  It was the most purely humanitarian act I had ever heard of.  Aside from Uris's book, however, I haven't heard much or anything about the Berlin Airlift, which really was America's finest hour and the first real showdown in the Cold War.  Luckily, The Candy Bombers provides a good historical account of the Berlin Airlift and its significance in American history.

Cherny does a good job of establishing the personalities and historical events that eventually led to the Berlin Airlift.  Although you'll probably have to flip back and forth between a few pages to make sure you're getting all of the personalities straight, it will be well worth it by the end of the book.  Learning of the political realities of not only Berlin, but also of America at the time of the Berlin Airlift was very interesting and a welcome addition to the book.  The Candy Bombers is truly a human story in the best possible way.  I didn't realize how affecting the candy drops were - not only for impoverished and brutalized Berliners but also for America and her citizens.  The Berlin Airlift is one of the most buried events of all American history, which is a tragedy.  It not only exemplifies the goodness of America and her citizens, but also highlights the worries and fears that was a natural part of the Cold War.

People should think seriously about reading The Candy Bombers simply because it's probably a piece of American history that they know little or nothing about.  Cherny has put together a fine work of history that is totally accessible and readable.  I would recommend The Candy Bombers without any reservations."