I just finished reading Ray Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man, a book that has been on my TBR list for a while, but somehow kept getting pushed to the back of the queue as other things demanded more immediate attention. When I first got back to Singapore from my most recent stint in Shanghai, I had put it back on the top of the stack, intending to read this summer. That was more than a month before Bradbury’s death. His passing perhaps made the reading of the collection all the more special to me, but I know I would have enjoyed the stories in this volume at whatever time I read them. But it just happened in such a way that the reading of The Illustrated Man, coming when it did, felt like a celebration of the man’s life and work. It is a masterful collection of short stories, with a framing story that pulls them all together into a tidy bundle. There are 18 tales in all, several of which are chill-inducing. All are enjoyable.
Another perk of this reading experience grew out of the particular copy of the book that I happen to own. I cannot remember where I picked it up, but it is an old beat up book I got second hand somewhere. This Doubleday edition was printed before I was born, in its 9th incarnation. The feel of the old volume, the crisp pages lying between battered covers, seemed like an especially appropriate treat with which to celebrate the lifetime of writing it represents. It was a clear reminder of just how accomplished Bradbury was, drawing particular attention to the longevity of his outstanding career.
There are many Bradbury books that get more attention than The Illustrated Man, but this one is a good one. I’m glad it was the book that turned out to be the one with which I was able to have my own private celebration of his life’s work.