Wednesday, 6 June 2012
I guess for most people Ray Bradbury is Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451 and "a master of science fiction". I love all these and have read them over and over again. But among my ten desert island books, I would choose Dandelion Wine, and I would also claim that it is the best book ever written about childhood. About all the anguish of being a child and first discovering that you are alive and, as a consequence, that you are mortal. Wondering over the strangeness of adult life in which a ninety-five-year-old woman and a forty-year-old man recognise each other from a previous life and hope to meet in the future (no, I don't believe in reincarnation).
I fist read Dandelion Wine when was sixteen. It was disturbing - just as disturbing as a book should be. It changed my life. It changed my whole worldview. All right, let me spell it out: it is the single most important book of my life.
I didn't know and didn't care - still don't care - whether it was an autobiography. It is a beautiful piece of literature. I introduced all my friends to the book. It was a touchstone. If they were indifferent, they weren't really my friends.
I cannot imagine how you can remain indifferent to this book.
I was sixteen and was in love with, or thought I was in love with someone who was sixty. Dandelion Wine provided an answer. (This person has been dead for thirty years now. Miss Loomis would have urged me to die young. I am afraid it's too late).
"I dare say death will be a lobster, too, and I can come to terms with it".This makea more sense now than when I was sixteen.
By the way, I didn't know that lime-vanilla ice actually existed (or dandelion wine, for that matter).
I re-read the book recently, and it still goes right into my heart, every bit of it.
The copy in the picture comes from the Los Angeles Book Fair 2000. Staffan had journalist accreditation and therefore received a precious ticket to Bradbury's talk. He gave it to me.