Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

The Stories of Ray Bradbury collects one hundred tales that span Ray Bradbury’s four decades as a writer up to 1980. Although the author is best known as a writer of fantasy and science fiction, this omnibus volume also features his early horror stories and a generous sampling of his nonfantasy fiction. In contrast to earlier Bradbury story collections from which this compilation draws, the contents are not assembled according to a specific thematic or stylistic scheme. This arrangement allows the reader to explore ideas that pervade all of Bradbury’s work and transcend any one genre in which he writes, most notably the marvelous possibilities in everyday life and the persistence of fundamental human behaviors in the face of change and progress.

Bradbury’s tales of horror and the supernatural feature ordinary people who stumble upon the fantastic in the course of their mundane lives. In “The Scythe,” for example, a migrant worker looking to support his family takes up residence on an abandoned farm and discovers from the unusual behavior of the wheat he mows by hand every day that he has become the incarnation of the Grim Reaper, harvesting his daily ration of lives. In “Skeleton,” a plain young man develops devastating feelings of self-loathing upon realizing that he carries inside him a skeleton, “one of those jointed, snowy, hard things, one of those foul, dry, brittle, gouge-eyed, skull-faced, shake-fingered, rattling things that sway from neck chains in abandoned webbed...

(The entire section is 618 words.)