The Illustrated Man

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Illustrated Man
by Ray Bradbury

Oh Bradbury, how I love your twisted imagination! After reading Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles Bradbury had already won a permanent place in my heart, but this one certainly secured that spot. I’m so glad I finally read it.

The book begins when our narrator meets a man covered in tattoos; each one moves and tells a story of things to come. Each of the tales is a brilliant short stories in its own right and I actually realized I’d read a couple of them in other collections in the past.

Every plot delves into the inner-workings of society; examining everything from religion, sanity, and discrimination to individual motivations and choices. The whole book is so wonderfully put together that each piece adds to the overall themes, exploring a new aspect.

A few that particularly stood out to me:

The Rocket Man – A young boy’s father returns from his most recent trip into space and thrills his family with anecdotes from his latest adventure. Yet all the while they know he won’t stay long and this dread hangs heavy in the air. So many science-fiction stories are about astronauts and the new planets they travel to. This one feels unique because we never hear about the family that’s left behind.

The Veldt – This was one I had read before, but it’s just as deliciously creepy the second time around. Two spoiled children are acting up and their parents decide to take away their most prized possession, a nursery room that brings your wildest dreams to life.

Marionettes, Inc. – A man buys a robot to take his place in his boring home situation. He wants to travel without his wife and decides this is the perfect solution, but nothing is ever that simple.

Zero Hour – Kids all over earth are playing a game called Invasion, in which aliens are trying to take over the earth. Their parents think it’s funny, but as the zero hour approaches they begin to think it might not be a game.

"There were differences between memories and dreams. He had only dreams of things he had wanted to do, while Lespere had memories of things done and accomplished. And this knowledge began to pull Hollis apart, with a slow, quivering precision.” -Kaleidoscope

Check out Let’s Eat Grandpa’s review for more thoughts.


Ana S. said...

I love Bradbury too, though I've only read a handful of his books. I need to explore his back catalogue more.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

He wrote so many short stories, I feel like I still have a lot to read.

Alex (The Sleepless Reader) said...

I have this one waiting in the list of audio TBR. I think I'll work well in this format as it's all about telling stories.

Jenny said...

The story about the kids is the one that's stuck with me the longest. I nearly always enjoy Ray Bradbury's stories, but damn, The Veldt sticks. Such a wonderful and terrifying story.

Kailana said...

I have only read Bradbury a couple times and mostly just short stories. I need to give him a try in longer form soon. Even a collection of shot stories would be a step in the right direction!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Alex - I listened to this one on audio and it was perfect. Sometimes that format works so well with short story collections.

Jenny - I know! I read that on in high school and I was reading this one and realized it included that story and it all came back.

Kailana - The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451 are probably my two favorites of his.