Ray Bradbury is a well-known sci-fi author, and sci-fi is not lacking in the twenty-two stories of Long After Midnight. However, the sci-fi tales are outnumbered by the other stories, which are hard to classify within this genre. All the narrations are convincing, the pages flow smoothly and always leave the reader with fresh reflections on life. I believe that the gems of this anthology are The Blue Bottle, a sci-fi apologue about human desires; One Timeless Spring, which gently portrays a coming-of-age drama; Getting Through Sunday Somehow, a parable about the meaning we do (or don’t) attribute to small everyday joys; Interval in Sunlight, one of the best marital dramas ever represented; The Better Part of Wisdom, which describes, with respect and sympathy, the encounter of an old, decrepit grandfather, with his homosexual grandson and his lover; The Pumpernickel, a story about friendship that might have been conceived by Frank Capra himself. Not to mention The October Game, a recognized masterpiece of horror fiction. Anyway, the other short stories are equally good, and should be enjoyed one by one: two in particular, the aforementioned The Blue Bottle, and The Messiah, are connected to the themes and the atmosphere of Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles, a novel which can also be regarded as a short story collection. We can even find a hint of Ernest Hemingway in The Parrot Who Met Papa, and of Thomas Wolfe in Forever and the Earth, and be confronted with apparently dead epochs, but whose spirit still lingers inside human hearts, in the form of longings, dreams, and expectations.
Bradbury’s most remarkable qualities are his empathy with characters, his ability to describe plainly the most complicated scenes, his deep compassion in depicting the most varied situations. An author skilled in the search for universal values inside inner epiphanies, Ray Bradbury is a compassionate writer. He is able to describe, by weighing his words carefully, both the small and the great worries, the fears and the desires of adults and children, even when extracting them from the present and projecting them into a hypothetical future. An author who is significant in every single story, and trustworthy in everything he says. His works are not the hot air that, unfortunately, we are used to breathe in many of today’s books. Definitely, the universe of Bradbury’s short stories should be discovered, loved and granted a place of honour on everyone’s bookshelf.
Translation by Michele Curatolo (edited by Carole Watt)