a Summer ritual renewed

In the late 1970s and through the early 1990s, every 2 or 3 years I used to read a particular book. I read it in April or May, when, where I live, the first waves of Spring were recently passed but the full heat of Summer was ahead, a time when getting outdoors was something you look forward to every morning, the sun warms but doesn’t yet burn, the smell of early roses and mown grass lingers in the air in a special way.

That’s when I would go to the bookshelf and take down my copy of Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine, a book that I’ve loved since I first read it in about 1962.

I hadn’t had the book off the shelf in a decade now, and it was time, so this morning after a walk and a swim I took it down, took off the dust jacket and opened it. It’s the edition you see here, a 1974 reissue with a new introduction by Bradbury. I bought it after wearing out my original paperback edition.

Before I’d finished Bradbury’s introduction, I was relaxing into the chair and feeling an eagerness to dive into the magic on the pages to come. Expect more thoughts and comments as I read.

If you haven’t read Dandelion Wine, or if it’s been a while, maybe this would be a good time.

Update # 1: Thirty pages in, the Dandelion wine is made, Douglas is about to go to the shoe store to try convincing the store owner to letting him have the new tennis shoes, which may be my favorite single scene in the book, though there are so many…

Update # 2: Finished last night, in spite of feeling poorly. Wonderful, wonderful book, as always I enjoyed it heck out of it. This time through, perhaps my favorite part was Aunt Rose “straightening out” Grandma’s kitchen. I’m forming a theory that Bradbury (in this book), Jean Shepard and Steven Millhauser, each in different decades, have the same special small-town storytelling skill. The idea is swirling around in my head but may result in a post at some point…

About Richard Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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11 Responses to a Summer ritual renewed

  1. Bill Crider says:

    I remember this one fondly, as I do other Bradbury books (primarily short story collections). I have a paperback copy, though, not a hardback.

  2. Jeff Meyerson says:

    It has been a while. A long while. Probably the early 1970s at a guess.

  3. Carl V. says:

    What a wonderful summer ritual. I read Dandelion Wine for the first time a couple of years ago and was enthralled with it. It remains a very cherished read. I’ve actually read part of it to my wife and daughter and need to get it back out and continue the book with them. It really is wonderful. I read it over a long weekend back in my hometown in Nebraska while helping my parents pack up to move to a temporary apartment before moving here to Kansas City. The coming of age, and other, themes were particularly poignant because I was seeing a chapter close on my life, the selling of the house that I grew up in and had my fondest childhood adventures in. I consider the book even more special because of how perfect it was for me to read it at that time. It really is a lovely, well-crafted story.

  4. I too, try and read DANDELION WINE in the summer, though it’s been three or four since I last managed it. It’s pure magic. Like Mr. Electro –“Live Forever, Ray!”

  5. Richard says:

    Update: Thirty pages in. The Dandelion wine is made. About to go try to talk the store owner into letting him have the new tennis shoes, which may be my favorite single scene in the book, though there are so many…

  6. I read DANDELION WINE decades ago. Wonderful book! And I like your ritual of rereading it periodically.

  7. Carl V. says:

    I think the love story of the young man and old woman is my favorite part of the story, but it is hard telling, there are so many great parts.

  8. Richard says:

    Yes, there are so many, and amazingly each time I read it I find some I’ve forgotten.

  9. Evan Lewis says:

    I suppose it’s time I give Bradbury another try. The first (and last) story I read had rotting corpses of pregnant women with the rotting corpses of their babies hanging out. In a museum, I think. Not cool. Not even when I was 12.

  10. Patti Abbott says:

    My favorite one.

  11. Richard says:

    Evan – ugh, that sounds awful, and I can’t even place which book that would be. Certainly not this book, or The Martian Chronicles, or most of the other Bradbury I can think of off hand, though I don’t remember all of what’s in The Illustrated Man. I’m assuming it was a short story.

    Patti – it’s hard to choose with Ray Bradbury, but this is certainly the one I’ve read most often, and so my vote is cast by that.

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