Shadow Show: All-New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury

Book: Shadow Show
Author: A collection of short stories by many authors, including Neil Gaiman, Audrey Niffenegger, Dave Eggers, Sam Weller, Mort Castle, and Alice Hoffman.
Why I Read It: It's a collection of short stories in celebration of Ray Bradbury, who I love. Also, I was traveling at the time and a book of short stories travels easier than one long novel sometimes.
First Line: Hmmm, doesn't really apply because there are 26 first lines.
First Impression: Oh my. So very very dark. And creative.
Last Impression: This was truly an homage to Bradbury; emotional, unique, unexpected and human.

Overall – 5 Heart Racing As it usually is with a collection of shorter works by different authors, this book provided a mixed hat of tales. Some truly struck a chord with me and some I trudged through to get onto the next story. However, the overwhelming feeling was one of deep satisfaction.
Characters – 3 With short works such as these, it is the story that pulls the reader forward, rater than the characters, so many times they were forgettable.
Story – 5 Unabashedly brilliant. Though most of the 26 tales were a delight, a few stood out as exceptional: The Girl in the Funeral Parlor by Sam Weller, The Companions by David Morrell, Little America by Dan Chaon, Young Pilgrims by Joe Meno, and The Tattoo by Bonnie Jo Campbell stand out as truly memorable.
Narration – 4 Again, varied by work, but these artists are all experienced and each story is masterfully crafted.

Read Again? Absolutely. And again. And again.

Tell Others to Read? I recommended this book as I was still traveling through its pages. It is a very specific readership however, and is best enjoyed by true Bradbury fans (those who have read beyond Fahrenheit 451).

Excerpt from the Introduction:
      In Shadow Show, this celebration of Ray Bradbury, artists who have been profoundly influenced by him pen their own short stories in homage, stories that through image, theme, or concept are either ever so obviously or ever so subtle "Bradbury-informed." From the lyrical magic of Dandelion Wine, to the shifting sands of Mars, to the rolling mist of The October Country, Bradbury's literary achievements in all their scope are honored by a host of today's top writers. Shadow Show presents our most exciting authors, who, like the honoree, are not contained or constricted by category or locale, as they touch the Bradbury base for inspiration to explore their own singular, wildest imaginings.
     The stories in this volume are neither sequels nor pastiches but rather distinctive fictive visions by writers inspired by a single common touchstone: the enduring works of Ray Bradbury.
Content property of HarperCollins.

A Christmas Tree and A Wedding by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The other day I saw a wedding… But no! I would rather tell you about a Christmas tree. The wedding was superb. I liked it immensely. But the other incident was still finer. I don't know why it is that the sight of the wedding reminded me of the Christmas tree. This is the way it happened:

Exactly five years ago, on New Year's Eve, I was invited to a children's ball by a man high up in the business world, who had his connections, his circle of acquaintances, and his intrigues. So it seemed as though the children's ball was merely a pretext for the parents to come together and discuss matters of interest to themselves, quite innocently and casually.

I was an outsider, and, as I had no special matters to air, I was able to spend the evening independently of the others. There was another gentleman present who like myself had just stumbled upon this affair of domestic bliss. He was the first to attract my attention. His appearance was not that of a man of birth or high family. He was tall, rather thin, very serious, and well dressed. Apparently he had no heart for the family festivities. The instant he went off into a corner by himself the smile disappeared from his face, and his thick dark brows knitted into a frown. He knew no one except the host and showed every sign of being bored to death, though bravely sustaining the role of thorough enjoyment to the end. Later I learned that he was a provincial, had come to the capital on some important, brain-racking business, had brought a letter of recommendation
to our host, and our host had taken him under his protection, not at all con amore. It was merely out of politeness that he had invited him to the children's ball.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Book: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Why I Read It: I wanted to read a fantastical period piece.
First Line: "The circus arrives without warning."
First Impression: Oh. It's about dueling magic, not a circus.
Last Impression: Wow. That was.....sad and unexpected and romantic and hopeful. Just beautiful.
Overall – 4 Heart Skipped A Beat The story was certainly unique, but not what the title and visuals led me to expect. Those who pick up the book prepared for a magical love story will have expectations set accordingly and be instantly entralled.
Characters – 4 The cast is small and you get to know each character intimately. Their quirks breathe life into them and you are drawn in deeper as you progress, addicted to their world and desperate to discover their futures.
Story – 5 Hands down, completely amazing. So many unique wonders soar across the page, from the clock to the duel to the twists Morgenstern slowly unravels. I will say little to keep the discovery and anticipation intact. Just know it will be unlike anything you've read before.
Narration – 4 The world was picturesque, but the language that carried it was utilitiarian in comparision. It moved the story along, and painted the world in blocks of black and white and red, but could have given more.

Read Again? Most certainly. Not quite sure when the desire to visit this world again will capture me, but I am sure that it will.

Tell Others to Read? Yes. It is refreshingly different, easy to read, and well written.

Excerpt: Herr Friedrick Thiessen receives an unexpected visitor in his Munich workshop, an Englishman by the name of Mr. Ethan Barris. Mr. Barris admits that he has been attempting to track him down for some time after admiring several Thiessen-crafted cuckoo clocks, and was pointed in the right direction by a local shopkeeper.
     Mr. Barris inquires as to whether Herr Thiessen would be interested in making a special commissioned piece. Herr Thiessen has a constant stream of custom work and tells Mr. Barris as much, indicating from a shelf of variants on the traditional cuckoo clock that range from simple to ornate.
     "I'm not certain you understand, Herr Thiessen," Mr. Barris says. "This would be a showpiece, a curiosity. Your clocks are impressive, but what I am requesting would be something truly outstanding, das Meisterwerk. And money is absolutely no object."
     Intrigued now, Herr Thiessen asks for specifications and details. He is given very little. Some constraints as to size (but still rather large), and it is to be painted solely in black and white and shades of grey. Beyond that, the construction and embellishment is up to him. Artistic license, Mr. Barris says. "Dreamlike" is the only descriptive word he uses specifically.
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This work by H.E. Saunders is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.