Ray Bradbury is, indisputably, one of America's greatest storytellers. The recipient of the 2000 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, he ranks among the most beloved -- and widely read -- of American authors. In The Cat's Pajamas, this "latter-day O. Henry" (Booklist) takes us on an amazing walk through his six-decade career, presenting twenty-two tales -- some old, some new, all but two never before published.
Here you will find stories strange and scary, nostalgic and bittersweet, humorous and heart-touching, ranging from the not-so-long-gone past to an unknowable future: a group of senators drinks a bit too much -- and gambles away the United States; a newlywed couple buys an old house and finds their fledgling relationship tested; two mysterious strangers arrive at a rooming house and baffle their fellow occupants with strange crying in the night; a lonely woman takes a last chance on love. The final piece in the collection is a story-poem, a fond salute from Bradbury to his literary heroes Shaw, Chesterton, Dickens, Twain, Poe, Wilde, Melville, and Kipling.
The Cat's Pajamas is just that -- the bee's knees -- a touching, timeless, and tender collection from the incomparable Ray Bradbury, and a anoramic view of an amazingly long, rich, and fertile creative career.
The 20 brisk, imaginative tales (18 previously unpublished, with many written in the 1940s and '50s and others as recent as 2003) in Bradbury's latest collection show the astonishingly prolific author in lights of varying favor. Bradbury aims for a moral in "Chrysalis" (1946 1947), when a young black man who's tried for years to bleach his skin and a young white boy with a deep tan get the same racist response from a hot dog vendor. Skin color is also the issue in "The Transformation" (1948 1949), a set piece in which a gang of carnival workers enact revenge on a notorious rapist with the help of a tattoo gun. Standouts among the more fantastical stories include tales of civilized giant alien spiders yearning for Earthly integration; a pair of traumatized time travelers disturbing their nervous neighbor; and a U.S. president trying to reclaim the country after 12 drunk senators gambled it away to an Indian chief (a story that, Bradbury notes in the introduction, he wrote in "a few hours"). Several entries rely on personal paradox: a "freeway graffiti stuntman" becomes famous only after his accidental death in "Ol , Orozco! Siqueiros, S !" and an unknown intruder terrorizes a family of agoraphobes in "The Island." Alternately thoughtful, whimsical, probing and slapdash, these tales are a mixed bag, but a very interesting one.