We'll Always Have Paris: Stories
by Ray Bradbury
Review by Carolyn Frank
William Morrow Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780061670138
Date: 01 February 2009 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
The words may have been said in many times in many ways, but to most the phrase is associated with the next to last scene in the movie Casablanca where Rick sends Ilsa away with the words: We'll Always Have Paris. They have the memory of the euphoric phase of their love and no one can take that away from them. From this set of never-before-published short stories by Ray Bradbury, the reader will be able to take away new insights into the human condition as told by a master. Although one story features a trip to Mars, these are literary tales describing human life on Earth. For some stories Bradbury employs magical realism, but not science fiction regardless of how it is defined.
In the story from which the collection name is taken, "We'll Always Have Paris," the narrator takes a walk through late night Paris. Leaving his wife behind in their hotel room, the American narrator goes to experience the city on his last night before leaving. He ends up being led by a non-English-speaking Parisian through the dark, nearly empty streets to a very French denouement.
The only tale that could be considered science fiction, "Fly Away Home", was probably written back in the 1950s when Mars was thought of as a red desert-like version of Earth. This is a tale of the first rocket ship taking men to Mars and the associated psychological toll of traveling so far away, with no quick or easy way home. Although certainly non-intuitive, the response to this issue is a completely reasonable one within its own context.
In "A Literary Encounter," a young wife finds an ever-widening gap between her husband-of-less-than-a-year and herself. He has the habit of reading literature in the evening, which is fine, and of unconsciously taking on the persona of the narrator of the latest book that he is reading, which is not. The imaginative solution comes when the wife learns to understand and then to manage the situation.
The other nineteen stories in the book vary as widely over the breadth of human behavior as is conceivable by such a master as Bradbury. Many of the locations and even some of the people are familiar to readers who have read his earlier anthologies, but everyone who enjoys a well-told short story will find many here to savor.