Books are cheaper than heroin, but they DO add up....

Amy, Carrie, Chanin and Sarah buy (and read and review) their own stuff. They've been known to shop around from dealer to dealer looking for the best price. If you're interested in slipping them something to try out, just contact us.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Shadow Show edited by Sam Weller & Mort Castle

I finished reading Shadow Show on the train ride back from Tahoe.  That was at the very beginning of August.  I thought I'd review it right away, but I couldn't.  I went into it with rich expectations, on a high from re-reading The Illustrated Man, but the reality of finishing it was a slog.  It wasn't horrendous, but it was work, and I struggled to rectify how anything written in the spirit of Ray Bradbury could be work.  But it was, so I put it away.

With a heartfelt sigh, I pulled it back out today so that I could write a review.  After all, we didn't start this blog just to act as relentlessly perky cheerleaders (and I have years of cheerleading camp under my belt so I know of which I speak). We started it so we could share recommendations, from the sublime to the simply awful.  With that sense of duty, I picked Shadow Show up again.

And, I realized that if I could sum up the book in one phrase, it would be this:

That's Italian for "so-so".

Shadow Show is anthology of short stories written by authors who credit Ray Bradbury as an inspiration and a mentor.  It's meant to celebrate his life and his works. As with any collection of stories penned by different hands, it's uneven.  Some of a stories are delights that I would recommend you read even without the Bradbury association.  The rest? Well, they elicited responses ranging from indifference to indignity.  I suppose it was that uneven performance that made reading the book feel like such work to me.  As we've pointed out in reviews of The Illustrated Man and Something Wicked This Way Comes, reading Ray Bradbury is easy and beautiful.  Shadow Show has it's moments, but typically misses that mark.

Had the book been printed without a single Bradbury reference, I might have liked it more, I think,  because I would have expected less.  But with the build-up as a tribute to Bradbury's influence, the few stories that did him--in my humble opinion--a disservice overwhelmed my appreciation from the truly good stories.

Now, if you aren't the total Bradbury fangirl that I am, you might react more favorably, but I strongly discourage your from reading anything Bradbury right before you pick this up.

With that said, here are the names of the short stories that really worked--on their own and as Bradbury tributes:

"The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury" by Neil Gaiman
"Headlife" by Margaret Atwood
"Heavy" by Jay Bonansinga
"By The Silver Water of Lake Champlain" by Joe Hill
"Children of the Bedtime Machine" by Robert McCannon
"Conjure" by Alice Hoffman
"Backward in Seville" by Audrey Niffenegger
"Hayleigh's Dad" by Julia Keller

For those of you wondering, there are 27 tales all told, so this list comprises one-third of the total count. So, again, not horrendous, but overwhelmingly not Ray.

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1 comment:

  1. At last a book that if I don't read it, I won't feel guilty.