It's been quite the journey with Mr. Bradbury and his amazing collection of short stories, The Illustrated Man. It's been a while since a collection has roped me in like this. It was bittersweet to finally finish it, but at the same time I was excited to reach the ending--if that makes any sense.
These stories are pleasantly odd, haunting, somber, and even darkly funny at times. Bradbury makes no secret of condemning certain technological advances, but he does it brilliantly through his stories (two that immediately come to mind are "The Veldt" and "The Concrete Mixer"). And it never comes off as preachy. Bradbury uses that anger and fear to construct brilliant pieces of fiction. In the end, that's what writing's all about.
There isn't a stinker in the bunch. Even though I have my favorites, every single story was good. Not once did I find myself wanting to skip around here and there. Every story felt like they belonged in this collection. And in this exact order. I loved the prologue and epilogue, which ties it all together in the end. Yet every one of these stories is good on its own.
A few days ago I listed my current favorite stories from the collection, even though I had a few more to go. I've added a few more to the list. Again, just because I don't list a story by no means does it mean I didn't like it. I loved all of them. But these are the ones that stuck with me the most, and will continue to stick with me:
The Other Foot
The Rocket Man
No Particular Night or Morning
The Fox and the Forest
The Concrete Mixer
The Illustrated Man
This is an outstanding collection. One of the very best I've ever read. Even though I was always familiar with Bradbury and a few of his stories ("A Sound of Thunder" was my first introduction to him), this was the first time I sat down and really read him. I'm glad I did. He was one of the best storytellers out there, and The Illustrated Man is proof of that. This is a collection I'll revisit again and again.
Finished the story, No Particular Night or Morning. Another winner. I think I'm just going to have to create a list that dedicated to Ray Bradbury stories, because right now he is totally dominating my list of favorite short stories that I have to keep revising... not that I would call that a terrible problem or anything!
Seriously... if you love short stories, you NEED this book. I'm a little more than halfway through it, and right now it's gearing up to be my all-time favorite short story collection.