Well, the Zora Neale Hurston book ended up waiting to be read as, for some reason, Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine popped its head up and leapt into my hands. I think I thought it might be a slightly spooky Halloween-y read. In the end, it turned out to be an absolutely charming almost perfectly written coming-of-age story about one summer through the eyes of a 12-year old boy in small-town Illinois back in the 1920’s. (Nothing to do with Halloween.)
Really a collection of snippets and events from his memory (as the PoV is from the grown man looking back – omniscient), this book encapsulates how one thinks a summer should be for kids: endless summer days packed with playing and generally mucking about with a small gang of friends.
So, although this book is several different memories strung together, the common theme between them is summer (and in particular, dandelion wine, a product of sunny days. Recipe here). Bradbury writes expertly and with control as he describes how summer happens for the protagonist, Doug Spaulding. And everything happens from the poignant description of one of his friends leaving unexpectedly to how the Honeysuckle women’s society rig their elections to the night-time fear of walking home from the movies when there is a serial murderer out loose.
Not every story is funny, but a lot are. Some are slice-of-life stories as events seen through this boy’s eyes – when an elderly neighbor dies, for example, or the rumor that a lady down the street is really a witch…. Whichever event is being described, Bradbury writes superbly and this was an absolute joy to read.
This is very close to an almost-perfect read for me. I loved it and highly recommend it. Definitely one of the best books this year for me.
They went down into the cellar with Grandpa and …looked at all the summer shelved and glimmering there in the motionless streams, the bottles of dandelion wine…one for every summer day. “What a swell way to save June, July, and August”…
Note: “Dandelion” is now forever associated in my mind with Crazy Eyes on “Orange is the New Black” TV series…