Poetical stories

It´s continuing to be hard to get to sleep and I´m doing most of my sleeping in the afternoon these days. Not that it matters, all I´m missing is bleak skies and rain. Last night I read Ray Bradbury, a fairly recent collection of short stories titled "We´ll always have Paris". Twenty-two stories, of which only one can be said that it´s some kind of sf.

Many of the stories are about aging, actually. About being too tired to live, not remembering where one is, being alone and having lost everything, being afraid to die. Many of the protagonists cross boundries, national, professional, sexual. In the title novel, a night-walking tourist in Paris follows a young man and has some kind of sexual/emotional encounter in a basement somewhere, while his wife is expecting pizza at the hotel.

Several of the novels are about trying to get back home, about a longing for the way things were, like the couple of runaways from a mental hospital or old folks home (are they ill or just suffering from dementia?), trying to figure out if they are in their hometown or not. As it turns out, it´s a movie set and the whole, archetypically familiar street is just made out of plywood and plaster. A similar fake town is set up on Mars to prevent an expedition of thirty men to go bonkers from being sixty million miles away from home.

It´s also about how real joy and real entusiasm for living is not welcome in the world, is regarded as a disturbance by the neighbours, like in Bradbury´s own favourite novel "Massinello Pietro", which he says in the foreword is practically all true. It´s about an old man who has lost everything and is about to loose what little he has left, his animals, his home, and his life. A man who dances in the street, not for a living, but to give his fellow men joy.

So yes, there are common themes if you think about it. But at the same time, it´s a bunch of short stories not in the least connected, not in their content anyway. And I realize as I read that this is the reason I find it so hard to remember much about short stories I have read. I´m a fast reader, a bit of a pudding reader, as it happens, and there are just too many impressions at one time in a collection of short stories for them to really settle into my brain. Bradbury said in some interview that several of his collegues have told him he is actually a poet. And perhaps that´s true, even the novels he has written are either collections of shorter stories more strongly connected that these are, like "The Martian Chronicles" or rather short, like "Fahrenheit 451". And as those who know me are aware, poetry isn´t really my thing. And perhaps it´s all due to the speed at which I read.

A bit of a revelation, I find. And I´m wondering if I should see that as a challange. To try and read something more slowly. Take my time and smell the roses, so to speak. I shall consider it.

No comments:

Post a Comment