A Trick and A Treat...
In Chicago we live for our summers. They tend to validate our own belief about the winters; that it’s worth suffering through because in April, hope springs eternal and we can look forward to the City’s vibrant summer culture: the patio seating at our favorite watering hole; skipping work to go to baseball games; long hot days on the lakefront; wearing shorts.
That being said, I’m a fan of autumn in the Midwest. My imagination gets fully charged. I’m not sure why that is. The beast in me smells the change in the air and notices the dying hues in the sunlight. The world begins to expose colors that signify the end of a cycle. Greens become reds and yellows. The blue sky fades more and more into deep shades of purple. The planet tilts on its axis and our place in the world gets a little bit darker. It’s still our world, just slightly off, and that crack in the universe forces us to see things differently and to feel things differently.
Ray Bradbury’s writing relishes this time of year. He was raised in Waukegan, Illinois for a time, which is a little over an hour North of Chicago. Bradbury likes to write about this time of year. He has referred to this time and place as “The October Country”. It’s the landscape of his imagination populated with characters that reside in a place where opposing forces in the universe coexist side by side: the dark and light, past and present. I wouldn’t say that his writing is horror or fantasy although its been classified as such, but in the spirit of autumn and the Halloween season I can recommend “Something Wicked This Way Comes”.
In his bibliography this novel completes a trilogy of sorts, the first book being “Dandelion Wine” and the second “Farewell Summer”. It isn’t necessary to read the first two books in order to enjoy the third. This trilogy exists in a loose form because the novels take place in Greentown, the fictional Waukegan of Bradbury’s youth. The characters in the first two novels are different from the third, but thematically the world of the third is same, just a little off. It’s probably no accident that Greentown becomes a darker place in “Something Wicked This Way Comes”. There are hints of the underlying darkness of the town in the first two novels, which take place in the summer and late summer into fall. That darkness exists not only in nature but also in the town folk’s dreams. Whereas the first two novels can be viewed as sentimental, the third, like the change in the seasons exposes how sentimentality can be turned on its head to become regret. A great read. Spooky on its own, and thought provoking when considered in it’s entirety with the earlier two books.
In the spirit of the season and as homage to one of my favorite writers I present to you dear reader a short story, “Ray Bradbury Park”. Happy Halloween!
Your host dressing the part of “A Drunken Fool” (aka “A Typical Saturday Night”) this Halloween.