Dandelion Wine

by Ray Bradbury
Reviewed date: 2004 Jul 12
239 pages
cover art

"I rummaged my mind for words that could describe my personal nightmares, fears of night and time from my childhood, and shaped stories from these. Then I took a long look at the green apple trees and the old house I was born in and the house next door where lived my grandparents, and all the lawns of the summers I grew up in, and I began to try words for all that. What you have here in this book then is a gathering of dandelions from all those years. The wine metaphor which appears again and again in these pages is wonderfully apt."

- Ray Bradbury

Dandelion Wine is a loosely connected set of semi-biographical stories by Ray Bradbury. Most of these stories can stand alone, and I have seen several of them published as independent short stories. But Ray Bradbury weaves them all together into a seamless recollection of an innocent childhood.

I am a fan of Ray Bradbury's science fiction (SF) writing, but much of his writing is not within the realm of SF. Dandelion Wine is decidedly not SF. That doesn't make it a bad book--some might think that automatically makes it better than Bradbury's other work--but I remain partial to Bradbury's SF. Dandelion Wine is full of beautifully artistic, nostalgic, emotionally-charged stories. Fun, poetic, colorful. Bradbury is one of the most artistic writers I have ever read.

But you can have too much of a good thing. You should read Dandelion Wine bit by precious bit, savoring each story before moving on to the next. It's not a swashbuckling adventure to be read in one sitting; you'll need at least a week. My advice, though, is to read some non-SF Bradbury short stories first, to see if you like his style. If you do, Dandelion Wine is his best work.

George T. Dodds
Bradbury's Dandelion Wine was very different from anything he had written to that point. While his early horror and science fiction tales had the sense of nostalgia found throughout the body of his work, Dandelion Wine skewed the nostalgia/horror balance almost completely to one side. Dandelion Wine is at times a constant barrage of similes and metaphors almost without plot, while Bradbury's best horror, although powerfully atmospheric, is also strongly plot driven.

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