Sunday, March 27, 2011

Death is a Lonely Business

Death is a Lonely Business by Ray Bradbury

It's been a long time since I read anything by Ray Bradbury. Which is kind of unfortunate because he's one of my all-time favorite authors. I think I was in the 6th grade when we studied short stories and as a class we read All Summer in a Day. That was the first thing by Bradbury I ever read and there have been very few things by him that I haven't enjoyed. And considering the number of short stories and novels he's published in his lifetime, that says a lot.

Death is a Lonely Business is a mystery. The narrator is a man in his early twenties who is a struggling science fiction writer. His identity is never revealed, nor is his name used at any time in the story, but it's pretty apparent that Bradbury uses himself as the main character and leaves it up to the reader to determine whether the story is wholly or partially autobiographical or whether he made the whole thing up.

It begins with the narrator riding a late-night commuter train on his way home. As he's sitting there in what he believes is an otherwise empty railroad car, he becomes aware that he's not alone. There's another man standing behind him in the aisle, drunk and swaying on his feet. In an effort to discourage any interaction with his traveling companion, the narrator keeps his eyes shut, and his head turned away. For the most part, his efforts are successful, but the man does say something to him before exiting the car, "Death is a lonely business." Shortly after that encounter, people in the narrator's life begin to die and the narrator believes it's the man who rode the train with him who's behind their deaths.

If you've never read anything by Bradbury, his writing style can take some getting used to. He relies heavily on the dialogue between his characters to tell his stories. And that can seem rather short and terse a lot of the times. But for me, his writing style is half of the enjoyment of reading the book.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

No comments:

Post a Comment