Friday Reads: Something Wicked This Way Comes

Happy Friday Gollancz Blog readers and welcome back to our weekly #FridayReads wherein a member of Team Gollancz shares with you a book we can’t stop talking about. Whether its an upcoming new release, an old favorite or a hot genre title this is the place for to find your perfect weekend reading selection. This week Simon tells you why you should read Something Wicked This Way Comes

Something Wicked This Way Comes was my first Ray Bradbury. I think I came to it via Stephen King. I can’t remember how exactly, this was more than 30 years ago. It doesn’t matter. This novel is not about exactitudes. It is about yearnings. I have an immense yearning for this novel. Not a yearning to once again be the me I was when I first read it; that would be a nightmare. But perhaps a yearning to be hit, once again, by the simple intoxication of this book in the way it hit me then. There is something about Bradbury that is deeply sentimental, deeply evocative of pasts that were never actually that good or that terrible. Something deeply felt. To make you feel for what you haven’t felt, to live what you’ve only guessed at is the mark of a great writer.

I could try and tell you about this novel’s Rockwell like gloss on small town American life, about its heartfelt paen to being a kid; not a boy, not a child, a kid ( a kid wearing sneakers, a kid who’s spent all day running wild in the tall grass, a kid who drinks soda pop). I could tell you about Bradbury’s profound understanding of the fact that our inner child is with us always. I could talk about Americana. About a prose style that is so rich, so consciously artful that you sometimes wonder how Bradbury, the benevolent, smiling old trickster that he is gets away with it (indeed, sometimes he really doesn’t). I could wonder about influences on the aforesaid Stephen King, on Neil Gaiman, on Stephen Spielberg. I could try to tell you just what delicious horror the words ‘Cooger and Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show’ still raises in me.

Instead (we are all busy and you would be much, much better spending your time reading Ray Bradbury than me), let me give you a small chunk from this book found after flicking through it for 10 seconds. I promise you I could have found something to quote on any page. If this doesn’t tell you why this book is my Friday Read, fair enough.

‘What’s the answer, he wondered, walking through the library, putting out the lights, putting out the lights, putting out the lights, is it all in the whorls of our thumbs and fingers? Why are some people all grasshopper fiddlings, scrapings, all antennae shivering, one big ganglion eternally knotting, slip-knotting, square-knotting themselves? They stoke a furnace all their lives, sweat their lips, shine their eyes and start it all in the crib. Caesar’s lean and hungry friends. They eat the dark, who only stand and breathe.

That’s Jim, all bramblehair and itchweed.

And Will? Why, he’s the last peach, high on a summer tree. Some boys walk by and you cry seeing them. They feel good, they look good, they are good. Oh, they’re not above peeing off a bridge, or stealing an occasional dime-store pencil sharpener; it’s not that. It’s just, you know, seeing them pass, that’s how they’ll be all their life; they’ll get hit, hurt, cut, bruised and always wonder why, why does it happen? How can it happen to them?’