Review: The Machineries of Joy: a Collection by Ray Bradbury

I don’t think I can recommend Ray Bradbury’s writings any more highly than Neil Gaiman does in his introduction to the latest printing of The Machineries of Joy, but I’ll try anyway. I’ve enjoyed Bradbury since I first clutched a used copy of The Illustrated Man at age 13, but I think I just fell in love with his prose all over again.

Machineries has been around since 1964, but you’d never guess it if you didn’t know. The writing is timeless and so clever you may be, as I was, inclined to read the stories more than once.

Since there are so many excellent stories in this compilation and to summarize them all would take far too long, I’ll focus on a few of my favorites.

“The One Who Waits” grabbed my attention and wouldn’t let it go. Sparing detail, and short, direct sentence structure speed you through in the beginning, and then a lightening-quick series of events drags you along and leaves you mentally frantic at the end, mouth agape, wondering how in the world that just happened.

“The Vacation” is a heart-wrenching study in what happens to people when they get what they wish for. What if it’s not as wonderful as you thought it would be? What if it is? Is family enough? It’s amazing what questions a gifted writer can answer in the space of a few thousand words.

“And So Died Riabouchinska” is bizarre and terribly sad. A heart-broken ventriloquist creates a wooden assistant, but that’s not all she is. When a man is found murdered in the basement of the theatre where the ventriloquist performs, it’s only a matter of time before the truth comes out and, as usual in a Bradbury story, it’s not what you expect.

In The Machineries of Joy, Bradbury offers up twenty-one smartly worded tales that slip in through your eyes to stimulate your mind, then reach down to tug at your heart. Most definitely one of the most entertaining books I’ve read in a while, and a delightful reading experience!

Buy, Borrow, or Pass?
If you’re a fan of short stories, science fiction, mystery, or just plain great writing: Buy!

Available at PS Publishing
The Machineries of Joy: a Collection by Ray Bradbury
Hardcover: 285 pages
Publisher: PS Publishing (June 2010)
Edition: 500 unsigned
Introduction: Neil Gaiman
Cover Artist: Joe Mugnaini
ISBN: 978-1-905834-40-2

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