Thursday, June 4, 2009

Summer Reading: Dandelion Wine

What a perfect start to the summer! Technically the season begins on June 21, 2009, with the summer solstice, but unofficially it starts on Memorial Day weekend. To kick-off my summer reading, I read Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine, published in 1957. Like many of you, most likely, I've read some popular works by Ray Bradbury, namely Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles. This book is different in that it's a semi-autobiographical novel about the summer of 1928, in Green Town, Illinois (the fictitious name Bradbury gives to his hometown, Waukegan, Illinois). The novel developed from the short story Dandelion Wine which first appeared in Gourmet magazine in June of 1953. This book will put you in the mood for summer. The writing is beautiful, lyrical, and evokes the magic and mystery of summer, mostly from the point of view of the story's protagonist, Douglas Spaulding, a 12-year-old boy based on the author. That summer, Douglas is feeling very much alive and at the same time developing a greater awareness of immortality and death. He feels everything very intensely, including friendship, the desire for new sneakers, the quest for happiness, and his own "aliveness".

The title refers to a wine made with dandelion petals and other ingredients, such as citrus fruit. (I found numerous recipes for dandelion wine on the internet.) In the story the dandelion wine made by Douglas's grandfather serves as a metaphor for capturing the fleeting joys of summer. The bottles of homemade dandelion wine brewed during the summer allow the season to be savored and remembered for a longer period of time.
"Hold summer in your hand, pour summer in a glass, a tiny glass of course, the smallest tingling sip for children; change the season in your veins by raising glass to lip and tilting summer in."
~Dandelion Wine, Ray Bradbury

8 comments:

  1. I haven't read anything by Bradbury yet, but I've heard good things about Dandelion Wine. I think I need to join a classics challenge again to encourage reading more classics.

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  2. Thanks for your comment, Booklogged. I highly recommend Dandelion Wine (and may well conclude the summer with the sequel, Farewell Summer, written many years later).

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  3. Susan, how can I not read this book now? I think this would be the perfect book for this particular summer. thanks

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  4. It really is a terrific way to begin the summer. Thanks for your comment, Rebecca.

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  5. Dandelion wine? ! that's new to me... and I am going to check it out. Thanks Suko!

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  6. Bradbury's writing is exceptional, Kim. Thanks for your comment.

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  7. My Grandpa used to talk about dandelion wine . . . and also about eating friend dandelions! I think things were a bit different growing up during the depression!

    I actually also have owned an old tattered copy of this for about 10 years. It's sitting on my TBR bookshelf looking sad. I definitely need to get around to reading it . . .although I may try to save it for next spring/summer as it sounds like a fantastic summer read. I'd really like to read Something Wicked This Way Comes also!

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