Dandelion Wine is a masterwork in the art of connected stories or vignettes. In the hands of Ray Bradbury, small-town America in the summer of 1928 comes alive. Kids run free and adults sip glasses of dandelion wine on their porches. But there’s also an unsettling undercurrent. “The Lonely One” is out there, killing town residents. The ravine is dark and foreboding. And every kid dreads the return of autumn and the end of summer.
Bradbury is a master of intricate and descriptive language. He molds each sentence with care, allowing readers a visual image in the shape of his words. His eloquent stories of Green Town transport us to another time and place.
There’s plenty of idyllic summertime fun here. But Bradbury balances the sunniness with some real-life moments even beyond the threat of murder. A few older characters die in the summer, leaving mourning friends and family in their wake. Siblings grow apart and change. Summer gives way to the colors of fall.
Reading Dandelion Wine amid a Pennsylvania summer is a perfect choice. I immersed myself in Bradbury’s twists of phrase and understanding of the human condition. Every story emotes a summertime feeling while acknowledging the passage of time. It’s a delicious series of stories. If you haven’t read Bradbury’s work before, this is a perfect introduction.
I listened to the audiobook, sometimes while working in my garden. Hearing about dandelions while pulling them out from amongst my coneflower and day lily beds is a wonderful audio pair. My book was narrated by Paul Michael Garcia. He reads with a gentle tone and doesn’t overplay either the sizzling summer or the lingering dread.
Follow with an autumn Bradbury story, The Halloween Tree for a whole separate feel. Another option is Bradbury’s discussion of the writing process, Zen in the Art of Writing.