I just got done reading One More For The Road, by Ray Bradbury. I expect I’ve mentioned that Dandelion Wine is my favorite book, and that I read it almost every summer. “One More” is a brilliant companion to DW, although it’s a very different kind of book. DW is a collection of short stories, but is also a novel. They are all set in the same time and place and with the same characters. They tell the story of one boy’s summer. One More is a collection of unrelated stories, but they have a common theme running through them.
While DW is a story about being a kid, and discovering the world, and growing up, “One More” is largely about the other end of ones life. There’s an interesting afterword in which Bradbury discusses the unintentional metaphors in his writing. If that is to be taken at face value, it’s possible that no such theme was intended. But what I see is a book about looking back on a very full life, and wondering if it could have been better, could have been more significant, and whether he can persuade other folks to take advantage of the opportunities that come to them.
I expect I’ll be reading this one again, if perhaps not as often as DW.
After the first time through, I think that the best story is “the nineteenth” in which he encounters an old man picking up golf balls on a golf course. I think I mentioned this story in an earlier posting, but I’m not sure. Perhaps we just discussed it on IRC.
“First Day” is also a fantastic story, and makes me very glad for the friends I have, and very sad for folks that look back on a long life and have no friends that have been with them all that time. That must be very lonely.
So, if you have to pick between the two, pick Dandelion Wine. It’s much happier. “One More for The Road” made me rather sad a number of times. But it’s worth reading, particularly if you’re a Bradbury fan.
Oh, and “Beasts” … I have absolutely no idea what that story is about.