Now and forever
I’m realizing now that Mr. Bradbury is more of a poet than anything else – or at least, this is the side he chooses to display in Now and Forever. The book is actually composed of two unrelated novellas, Somewhere a band is playing and Leviathan 99. To me, the most interesting part was actually “behind the scenes” – how Somewhere… was written after the author saw Katherine Hepburn’s Summertime in the 50s and how he kept working on the story, hoping that someday he’ll be able to give it to her and she’s turn it into a movie. Young Ms Hepburn would have been great as Nef, the mysterious, charismatic, ageless female character and I’m sure they would have found someone just as good to play Mr. Cardiff. But would this lyrically charged atmosphere have come alive? I don’t know. While this particular quality does not attract me in prose, I did enjoy the actual poem, mostly because of its repetitive musicality – I could almost hear it playing in my head:
Somewhere a bad is playing/Playing the strangest tunes,/Of sunflower seeds and sailors/Who tide with the strangest moons.
While Somewhere is more fantasy than sci-fi, Leviathan 99 is a sort of cosmic Moby Dick. It’s interesting – Quell the green, mind reading alien is a pretty rounded character, the image conjured by the lost city in space is haunting, as is the idea of the ancient funeral music, but Ishmael comes across as weak, indecisive and ultimately uninteresting and the mad Captain…I would have liked to see him harsher, stronger. And because I didn’t connect with the characters, I was very uninvolved in the whole story. Not to mention the fact that I didn’t read Moby Dick so I probably missed out on a lot of the story – I do know it’s a classic, but sea adventures are just not my thing.
Overall, I’m a bit less enthused about Mr. Bradbury than I was after reading The Illustrated Man. But I still have at least Farenheit 451 to go through.