Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Revisiting the Classics(?) -- Driving Blind

When I think of Ray Bradbury, I think science fiction. However, Driving Blind, published in 1997, proves that's not all he does. I thought it was sci-fi when I picked it up at a book store, but for the most part that's not what I got.

Driving Blind features 21 stories, some of which were inspired by events in Bradbury's life. Most of the stories take place in the 1940's and 50's in small-town America. I was expecting an anthology along the lines of Steven Spielberg's TV series Amazing Stories, but the tales in this book are far less fantastic. Driving Blind is more of a celebration of a simpler time, when television was in its infancy and people connected with each other on a more meaningful level. As Bradbury illustrates, our interactions with other people shape us, and can be either positive or negative experiences.

I feel this book could have benefited from more focus and less stories. Most of the stories only last a handful of pages before you're on to the next one, and I can't recall most of them off the top of my head. The ones that stand out best are the few that indulge in fantasy and sci-fi, like the man who is surprised to find he's been dead for several years and has inexplicably returned from the cemetery. One of the best of this collection is the titular story, "Driving Blind," about a man wearing a dark hood who is in search of an identity to call his own.

Driving Blind is strange, yet strange in the sense that most of these stories could actually happen (and according to Bradbury, some of them did). It's also well-written, but don't come into it expecting a lot of science fiction or fantasy, and don't hold out hope that the stories will make a lot of sense. Many of them end suddenly and lack resolution, but that's OK with me.

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