Quicker Than the Eye
by Ray Bradbury
Review by Steve Sawicki
William Morrow Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 0380973804
Date: 01 December 1996 List Price $22.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
I grew up reading Ray Bradbury. If there were five writers that I wanted to emulate, Bradbury was always near the top of that list. Bradbury, like Ellison to a certain extent, and like Rod Serling, is able to capture a moment in text so perfectly that it is more akin to Norman Rockwell than anything else. Like Rockwell, Bradbury manages to capture the normal, the everyday, the action on the corner, at the counter, at the breakfast table, in such a way that we, who pass by that very scene, day after day, suddenly stop when presented by it in this way and think how wonderful this is. Unlike Rockwell, Bradbury then adds an element of the fantastic to the mix. While his writing have shifted slowly towards the mainstream, he still manages to add elements of the fantastic to his writing.
This collection contains twenty-one stories plus an afterward. It is the first new collection in a decade. Within are wonders both normal and not. There is the old highway that runs next to the interstate, closed now but still able to transport those who dare to places forgotten. There is the club where old men capture their youthful age. There is the psychiatrist who was a former submarine captain in the German navy. There is the sad young woman who appears in a young man's back yard. There are the ghosts of Laurel and Hardy, still moving a piano that hasn't existed for forty years. And there are so many more, each story a set piece that draws you in and then takes you some place new. Bradbury is not the master of the twist, rather he is the master of the magic in the obvious.
I admit to opening this book with some trepidation. It has been years since I read Bradbury and my last experience, his Irish novel, was not a good one. But this is short fiction--what Bradbury cut his teeth on. The stories that filled collection after collection in the 60s and 70s. And, I have to say, he's still got it. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this anthology.
The stories are short and effortless, which is incredibly difficult to do. They also, for the most part, have solid endings, which is also incredibly difficult to do. I would recommend this to anyone who once read Bradbury but has not for a while. If you are new to Bradbury I do think, while you might enjoy this, you would be better served going back and picking up R is for Rocket, or S is for Space, or The Illustrated Man.