Ray Bradbury is one writer that I feel a special connection to. I’ve already read Fahrenheit 451 and Martian Chronicles, and I was honored to be able to pay him a tribute. This month, it was Now and Forever, a book I hadn’t heard of.
They are now and always two short novels, which he published in one volume at the end of his life. Each is accompanied by an introduction from the author that explains how these stories came to be. One, “Somewhere, a band plays links his memories of Tucson, where he was six and twelve years. This poem was inspired by The Wind and the Lion’s soundtrack and his encounters and friendships with Katherine Hepburn. It was actually her idea to have it performed in the theatre or at the cinema. But it couldn’t be.
The second novel, “Leviathan 99”, was a result of his work as a screenwriter at Moby Dick back in 1956. You could say it’s a revision of history. The story sees the Mad captain, the killer whale, and the sailing ship transform into a spaceship, astronaut, and blinding comet. The story was first narrated by a radio station, then it was made into a play and published after many rewrites.
Every story is different. “Somewhere, a band plays …” with a dreamlike tonal quality. A journalist leaps from a train to reach Summerton, an odd town that seems like it was taken from another time. Nefertiti, the most beautiful woman on earth, lives there. The stationmaster works as a driver and baker. There are no children on the streets, and there is no death date in the graves. We learn what secrets this town holds and how the journalist managed to escape it over its hundred and eleven pages.
It is hard to not think about Moby Dick when reading “Leviathan 99”, and this may be the story’s main attraction. I haven’t yet read the original Herman Melville work, but I did read The Whale a few years ago, a graphic novel adaptation. This was enough to confirm that Bradbury had taken each character (Ishmael and Queequeg), and the underlying themes (religion and racism, obsession and revenge) and twisted the plot to create your own version. The context switch works for me, the original story’s essence is preserved, and the novel can be enjoyed by itself, even if it hasn’t been read.
“Somewhere a group plays …” evokes the past and “Leviathan 99”, makes us travel to future. Both convey the feeling of timelessness so the title, Now and Forever, is the best. Did that be the reason they were combined in one book? Perhaps yes. Or maybe not. One thing is certain: these novels, which are so different from one another and so Ray Bradbury-inspired, offer a great opportunity to meet Ray Bradbury or to learn more about him.
Hi, my name's Sarah Star and welcome to my book review blog.
I come from Oklahoma and live there with my family.
By profession, I studied library and information science.
I am currently writing a novel and focusing on my new book review blog.Read More