Death Is A Lonely Business - Ray Bradbury (1985)

Ray Bradbury is quite simply one of the best writers to work in the latter half of the twentieth century. He has written in a number of fields and genres and has at least one authentic classic to his name that transcends genre boundaries; one can not really be considered fully versed in modern American literature if one has not read Farenheit 451. He has a style which verges on the poetic without drifting over the line and becoming precious. His use of imagery is brilliant and is arguably as good as any who have ever sat before a battered manual typewriter to attempt to convey something, anything to a reader.

With Death Is A Lonely Business, Bradbury attacks the mystery novel in his own fashion. The hero, never named, is a young science fiction writer living in Venice, California and trying to start his career. Given that the novel is written in the first person, the temptation to assign it some autobiographical significance is nearly irresistable. I shall refrain from doing so, while observing that the nature of writing and the creative process of writing is a theme in the book, as well as something of a macguffin. To write about writing is something of an acid test for an author; fortunately Ray Bradbury is an exceedingly good author, which is why the excurses on the subject in Death Is A Lonely Business are still good reading. That he manages to weave them into the plot is the mark of a master.

The plot revolves around a series of deaths and dissapperances in the town. None are clearly murder, but the protagonist clearly feels that some force or agent, if not directly slaying his victims, is certainly helping them along. Our hero careens along, meeting a variety of eccentric but deeply human characters, piecing together the puzzle, while stumbling toward his own happiness.

The mystery itself is pretty good, not absolutely top notch, but pretty darn good. The characters, the imagery and the style are all first rate, though, and elevate the book well above the mundane. For Bradbury fans, the book is a must-read, of course. For those who are not, it is still well worth the time.

Overall Grade: A-

1 comment:

MOLLY GRAY said...

Molly Gray