Late summer into fall reminds me of the imaginative stories of Ray Bradbury. Stories like Dandelion Wine, The Homecoming, and Halloween Tree conjure the moods of the changing seasons. So it only seemed befitting reading Shadow Show at the end of summer. Shadow Show is the collection of stories, brought together by Sam Weller and Mort Castle, celebrating the creative and influential life of Ray Bradbury. Conceived prior to Bradbury’s death in June of this year, Ray Bradbury wrote the book’s opening letter, A Second Homecoming, which pays homage to his classic short story, The Homecoming, but also welcomes like minded creative artists to his reunion.
Shadow Show is a well chosen collection of short stories bringing together an assortment of contemporary master writers from across the literary spectrum showing that Bradbury’s influence is in story telling itself and not limited to any one genre. Here we have writers revealing a possible darker side to an everyday event, taking daring escapes across a near future America, dwelling on advancements in science, and always telling stories about life. Neil Gaiman’s short story, The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury, is an energetic, manic, frightening, and sad tale that introduces the ideas of Ray Bradbury through tiny glimpses through the narrator’s scattered thoughts. In Sam Weller’s story, The Girl in the Funeral Parlor, Weller takes what seems a rather pedestrian tale and creates something engrossing filled with anticipation mixed with a bit of spookiness and yearning. Margaret Atwood’s story, Headcase, is satisfyingly disturbing without transgressing boundaries as only Atwood seems able to achieve. Then we drift along through Dan Chaon’s Little America, which is a kind of rumination of change, both personal and societal changes in a near future where everything is and is not what it seems to be. The list of author’s and stories continues, each compelling and each different from the last.
One doesn’t have to be an admirer of Ray Bradbury’s works to enjoy the stories collected within Shadow Show. Just a love of good story telling with imagination will keep most readers turning the pages from one story to the next. And, for those interested in the story behind the stories and what compels the author to put pen to paper (or sit before the glow of the computer monitor) late into the night, I recommend reading each author’s discourse about his or her story after reading the story itself. There is insight in these passages that just might send you back for another reading of certain stories. As I do with Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine, I expect I’ll be rereading the stories within Shadow Show and revisiting the rich imaginations that put forth these splendid speculative tales in years to come.
Nina Longfield is a writer living in Oregon’s fertile wine country. When she is not reading or writing in her spare time, Nina enjoys hiking in the hills surrounding her cabin.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by William Morrow Paperbacks. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.