Are you halfway through Something Wicked This Way Comes yet? Do you have opinions? Today is the day to start talking about our responses to the book.
Here are a few questions to ponder today and for the next week or so -- and please feel free to leave your thoughts whenever you can.
I'll add some of my own thoughts and you can riff off of them or add your own impressions. If you want to hear other takes on a part of the book that you found either wonderful or annoying leave your own questions in your comment, too. I hope you are all enjoying it!
1.What did you think of the writing style? Did it take any effort to get used to it? Do you like it?
I love Ray Bradbury's writing style; his excessive use of adjectives, wildly creative and sometimes opaque metaphor, the snap and spirit in his stories as they rush along. I know it can seem melodramatic or over-the-top to people who prefer more clean, sedate writing, but I think it suits his themes so well. This novel is less baroque than some of his stories, though -- a little tighter. I generally read through the doorways of character and style though, so perhaps that is why I like it so much! (if you don't know the four doorways of reading, as outlined by Nancy Pearl, check it out here: I think this is the easiest way to determine what it is you like in your reading experiences, & I use them every day in my library work!)
2.How do Will and Jim’s surnames and birth dates provide insights into their character? Do you think this was evocative, clever, too obvious...?
I like the way the two boys are so similar and yet slightly differentiated by their day of birth -- Halloween for one -- and by their names. Jim is a darker character and his name, physical description and fascination for the more adult things in life are all tied together. It could be considered a bit obvious, but it seems the whole book is a bit heightened when it comes to character description and development, so I think it works. You may disagree, though!
3.What do you think of Mr. Halloway's relationship with Will? What role do you think his occupation plays in the story? Or, a related question, what is the significance of the library in this story? Of Mr. Halloway being a janitor there?
Big surprise, I love the way the library acts as a beacon and a safe haven for the boys in the midst of their adventure. I love Bradbury's respect for libraries overall, and his imaginative, idealized depiction of this library and its dusty stacks full of travel, adventure, dinosaurs, pirates and more. It's also great that Mr. Holloway's response to this existential threat is... research ;) I think his role as janitor shows his dedication to the ideals of the library even while like everything else in his life, he feels like he is not 'enough' in some way. Not a good enough father; not a librarian, just a janitor in the library -- showing his weakness.
4.What did you think of the opening of the story? Did Tom Fury and his lighting rods set a mood or get you ready for what was going to happen?
I find the opening paragraphs (literally) atmospheric, even if the storm never quite arrives in the way Tom Fury predicts it. I can almost hear Fury, with his clanking lightning rods, appear amidst the wind and the dusk. It starts us off with a shiver.
5.From the outset, the sudden appearance of Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show is a cause for concern. Did you sense from the beginning that the carnival is sinister?
Bradbury does give us many clues that this is a sinister group; the music playing without anyone playing it, the steaming old-fashioned train pulling in in the middle of the night, the tents made of clouds and shadow... I think it's evident early on that Cooger & Dark are Up To No Good.
6.Ray Bradbury utilizes smells and sounds in Something Wicked This Way Comes in order to provoke profound sensory memories and emotions from his characters. What smells and sounds have a profound emotional effect on you?
I find that throughout the story, the senses are evoked in many ways. The tactile feel of his descriptions of the boys climbing the roof to nail up a lighting rod, the experience of being a child at night in your room and hearing your parents talking in the distance, the smell and feel of a night wind, the music of the carnival, the scent of cotton candy on the wind and the power of nostalgia -- all of it makes this a sensory whirlwind, at least for me.
7.What weakness would Mr. Dark seek to exploit in you? What would your tattoo be?
Hmm, this one is tough. I'm not sure how my tattoo would appear on the Illustrated Man if I had succumbed to the Pandemonium Shadow Show's temptations. I'll have to ponder it!
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on your reading!