Ray Bradbury (1920–2012)
From Ray Bradbury: Novels & Story Cycles
Sixty-five years ago, in the spring of 1957, Ray Bradbury finally had in hand the proofs for the book that he had been working on for over a decade and that he had been contracted to write in 1951—before the appearance of such best sellers as The lllustrated Man, Fahrenheit 451, or The October Country. The new book, Dandelion Wine, would appear later that year—but it was not really much like the idea for the novel he had originally sold to his editor at Doubleday.
He had toiled away at the book, a nostalgic evocation of his childhood in Waukegan, Illinois (“Green Town”), but the novel “had wrestled him to a draw,” writes Bradbury expert Jonathan Eller. Instead, at his editor’s urging, Bradbury extracted some of the episodes and added interstitial material to create a story cycle.
In spite of (or perhaps because of) the change in plans, Dandelion Wine became one of his most successful books. Years later, Bradbury would call it his celebration “of death as well as life, dark as well as light, old as well as young, smart and dumb combined, sheer joy as well as complete terror written by a boy who once hung upside down in trees, dressed in his bat costume with candy fangs in his mouth, who finally fell out of the trees when he was twelve and went and found a toy-dial typewriter and wrote his first ‘novel.’” Nearly fifty years after the appearance of Dandelion Wine, Bradbury finally completed his original novel, publishing it in 2006 as Farewell Summer, the last book before his death in 2012.
As he was fine-tuning the final draft of Dandelion Wine, Bradbury added two new stories that hadn’t been published elsewhere. One of them, “The Tarot Witch,” is notable because it anticipates the menacing carnivalesque atmosphere of his next book, Something Wicked This Way Comes—which is also set in Green Town. We present it here as our Story of the Week selection, which includes an introduction explaining how Sherwood Anderson helped inspire the creation of Dandelion Wine.