Ray Bradbury and Halloween—yay!
This year I wanted two things for Halloween—an appropriate Halloween read and at least a brief respite from horror, both in fiction (which I enjoy) and in life (and there seems no end to real-life horror these days). Ray Bradbury’s THE HALLOWEEN TREE, which came to my attention just at the right time, satisfied both wishes. As the title says, it’s all about Halloween and it’s a welcome alternative to horror—real and imagined. BUT—you may interject—it’s a book for kids! So? Halloween brings out the kid in me—as I grew up, it was always my favorite holiday AND I like well-written children’s books—AND this is RAY BRADBURY, one of my lifelong mentors in wordcraft and spellbinding storytelling. This neat little novel did not disappoint. It sends a group of twelve-year-old boys on a journey through time wherein they learn Halloween’s “hidden” history and each makes a profound sacrifice to save the life of a friend. It ranges from cave dwellers huddled around a fire, to Egyptian tombs and mummies, to British druids, to the Notre Dame Cathedral, to Mexico for the dia de los Muertos. Like most of Bradbury’s work, it’s limited to a kind of literary equivalent to Norman Rockwell’s nostalgia for a never-quite-real Americana and still, for all that, it’s a beautiful cascade of words and phrases by a master writer and storyteller with an expansive and generous spirit. It lifted my own spirits in this darkening season and that’s just what I wanted.