“I mustn’t forget, I’m alive, I know I’m alive, I mustn’t forget it tonight or tomorrow or the day after that."
Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine is the perfect book to read at summer’s end. It’s perfect at the beginning of summer, as well. Really, it’s a perfect book.
Dandelion Wine is Bradbury’s semi-autobiographical story of the summer of 1928 in Green Town, Illinois (Waukegan). We see the town through the eyes of twelve-year-old Douglas Spaulding and his younger brother Tom as they crash through the summer, tallying traditions and new discoveries.
If that description makes you think, “I don’t care about a story about two little boys,” stop thinking that. It doesn’t matter what Douglas Spaulding looks like or how old he is, because he is you, and Dandelion Wine is about childhood and summer and boogeymen and death and goodbyes. It’s beautiful and sad, and it’s maddening because I can only dream of achieving such excellent writing. Each sentence is alive and sensual. You see, feel, smell, or taste what Bradbury describes. Every sentence hums, electric and alive with verbs and clear language. It’s sentimental, but so am I. I cried three or four times throughout the book. Once during the introduction, probably because of this:
“I see my grandfather there looking up at that strange drifting light, thinking his own still thoughts. I see me, my eyes filled with tears, because it was all over, the night was done, I knew there would never be another night like this.”
I’ve seen brown leaves on D.C. sidewalks in the last few days. Maybe the leaves are already turning wherever you are. Prolong your summer a little longer with Dandelion Wine. Save it for winter to brighten those cold, short days. Just read it.