I have to confess that I would read a collection of grocery lists if Ray Bradbury
had written them. Outside of that, though, One More for the Road is a collection
of short stories that would be a perfect summer reading book. Each story can
stand alone but blends in very well with the ones before and after it.
Only the story about Laurel and Hardy appearing near Alpha Centauri could be
considered the kind of science fiction that Ray Bradbury is so famous for writing.
(Well, the time machine for finding famous authors is science fiction too but
it’s hard to call it that when you’ve finished reading that story.)
Instead, it represents a part of Bradbury’s writing that is often overlooked:
his ability to create characters that the reader knows instantl
y. His writing
style in this collection is sparse and tight, with not a wasted word or unneeded
phrase on any page.
While reading the book, I noticed that what I was holding wasn’t so much
a collection of stories as it was a collection of moments in time. There’s
the moment when adulterous lovers fall out of love with each other and back
in love with their spouses. Or the one where the narrator stops to help an old
man collect golf balls from a dusky ditch. And the moment when a father finally
says goodbye to a dead son. You get the idea. This book is full of those types
of tales. There is a sense of each character looking back over a long life and
realizing how good a life it has been.
Ray Bradbury admits in his afterword that many of the stories have a basis
in fact. Most of the tales come from events that he either lived or witnessed,
and the reality of those moments oozes from his typewriter.
This is a super book from one of the truly great writers of the last fifty
years. It would be well worth anyone’s time to read it.
Ed. note: If you’re interested in other short story collections, check
out the review of Alice Munro’s latest: Hateship,
Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage. If you’re interested in
sci-fi or fantasy, check out the other books reviewed in our Slightly