Ray Bradbury, now 83, selects 100 of his most celebrated tales from a lifetime in print twice the length of Poe’s.
This will quite likely go down as grandmaster Bradbury’s magnum opus in lieu of an acid-free trove by Library of America. Many wonder-bearing pages, awash in rural nostalgia, sentiment and charm, are redeemed by a sprightly motion forward in the storytelling, which comes as naturally to Bradbury as breathing. Are these his best work? Well, in the short form, yes. But his best ever may remain in novel-length (the flawed but morally forceful Fahrenheit 451, 1953) and the memoir Green Shadows, White Whale (1992), about his scripting Moby Dick with John Huston in Ireland while finding the Irish much like his own fantasy figures and monsters. In Bradbury, the fantastic weaves through the banality of everyday life while the supernatural is infected with the same stuff you and I face in kitchen and living room, though not the bedroom. His linked stories transporting Middle America to Mars in The Martian Chronicles (1950) gave him his biggest boost to fame, and though these shady-porch tales today may have a cheesecloth quality to their poetry, they remain his bubbling first masterpiece, with the present volume their bookend.