Ray Bradbury - Death is a Lonely Business (1985) Mar 8, 2009 5:29:46 GMT
Post by Calenture on Mar 8, 2009 5:29:46 GMT
Death is a Lonely Business by Ray Bradbury
Copyright the author 1985; this Grafton copy 1987.
Venice, California 1949. Fog drifts along the oil-stained canals, sand against the windows, and they are tearing down the pier with its wonderful arcade and cinema. The roller-coaster ride lies like the bones of a dinosaur on the beach. On the bus home, a drunk whispers into the young writer's ear; whispers a message of death. Later, there is the other drunk, drifting behind the bars of the sunken lion cage in the canal. A serial killer is loose, and he seems to be following the writer around.
Elmo Crumley is the detective who lives in a house where the wild garden echoes to the sounds of the Amazon jungle. Fanny Florianna, huge, always eating, unable to lie down to sleep in case her weight smothers her, listens to Tosca in her second floor apartment. Constance Rattigan, the unfading silent film star, skin smelling of spices and tasting of salt sea, hides in her Moorish castle on the beach, her whole life a joyful deception. The old lady who lives in the house marked by the ancient 'Canaries For Sale' sign; the old man with his menagerie of pets; Cal, the worst barber in the world, who once played with Scott Joplin; Annie Oakley, waiting behind her shooting gallery bar for strange men; while Mr Shapeshade switches on the projector in his pier cinema to send The Phantom flickering across the screen once more. All these and more, fantastic characters all, dance or crawl through the pages; while A L Shrank creeps between the ranked books of unremitting misery towering on their shelves in his tarot booth, and Blind Henry shivers as he smells death like the smell of armpits in the hallway.
In love with the past, but creating a joyous celebration of life, this is Bradbury at his best; vaguely autobiographical, as the memories of first magazine-sales and early stories are conjured (The Foghorn is here, and so is one of The Martian Chronicles; others, too). One of those rare books you don't want to end.