Driving Blind

Driving Blind

by Ray Bradbury
     
 

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Over the course of a long and celebrated career, Ray Bradbury has traveled many roads: cruising down country highways that wound through the unseen heart of small-town America; exploring rutted backwoods paths that led to dark and dangerous places; racing at mach-speed along shimmering celestial turnpikes as limitless and exciting as the unbound imagination. The

Overview

Over the course of a long and celebrated career, Ray Bradbury has traveled many roads: cruising down country highways that wound through the unseen heart of small-town America; exploring rutted backwoods paths that led to dark and dangerous places; racing at mach-speed along shimmering celestial turnpikes as limitless and exciting as the unbound imagination. The Dean of American storytellers, Bradbury cherishes the worlds he envisions through his windshield. And with incomparable skill and an infectious wonder undiminished by years, he shares what he sees—so that we might also appreciate the view.

DRIVING BLIND is a stunning new collection of short fiction—the first since the publication of Bradbury's critically acclaimed Quicker Than the Eye. With a steady hand on the wheel, the master once again transports us to remarkable places— and to warm and achingly familiar destinations of the heart, revealed as we've never seen them before in the brilliance of day or gloom of night. Here are unforgettable excursions to the fantastic, glorious grand tours through time and memory— interspersed with strange, unexpected side trips to the disturbing and eerie—where surprises are waiting around every curve and just beyond each mile marker.

These are new roads we have never ridden before—sprawling interstates and lush, twisting rural routes fraught with dangers and delights of all manner, shape and substance. With Ray Bradbury in the driver's seat, the journey promises to be a memorable one. Come along and enjoy the ride.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
September 1997

This author of more than 30 books is at it again, with his latest collection of short stories, Driving Blind. And once again, Ray Bradbury's stories reflect the excellence in storytelling that has made him a household name. Driving Blind is his first collection of short stories since the publication of the critically acclaimed Quicker Than the Eye, and many agree that Bradbury once again delivers.

During the course of Bradbury's illustrious career, he has traveled many roads, driving along highways and country back roads and observing the world through the windshield of his car. The "dean of American storytelling" cherishes the world he views, and he grants his readers the gift of story with unparalleled skill and incomparable imagination as he shares what he has seen on the road, so readers can also appreciate the view.

Driving Blind is a collection of short fiction that brings us to many remarkable places as well as familiar destinations. In typical Bradbury fashion, his stories cross the spectrum of setting, time, and mood. They range from the brilliance of day to the gloom of night and take readers on side trips to the disturbing and eerie. With Bradbury in the driver's seat, readers are taken down roads never ridden before — and probably never to be seen again.

Miami Herald
Remarkable...intensely told...The easiest book this year to read.
Virginian Pilot
A preeminent storyteller... An icon in American literature.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The 21 stories in Bradbury's new anthology are full of sweetness and humanity. Despite bizarre actions and abstract twists, all are grounded in the everyday. Here are sketches, vignettes, strange tales, colorful anecdotes, little tragedies, hilarious lies and metaphysics too. Here are a spinster's ancient love letters and the man who wrote them, wholesome small-town folk and conniving sharpsters, a moribund circus camel, a homicidal garbage disposal and a dead man searching for mourners. Much of the text is dialogue, and it works because Bradbury excels at portraying the robust textures of American speech. He is unapologetically romantic: most of the stories have love songs in them, or thunderstorms, or both, and no one seems to need to lock their door. Only four of these tales are science fiction, and one of those sneaks very cleverly out from under the genre's strictures: in the title story, Mr. Mysterious, a black-hooded stranger, is befriended by a boy whom Norman Rockwell might have painted. The reader is led to expect a supernatural change beneath the hood, but the boy has an insight of almost Philip K. Dickian subtlety about the nature of reality and memory that allows Mr. Mysterious to redeem his troubled history with both feet on the ground, while Bradbury leaps to an ecstatically optimistic ending. A few of the entries are less finished. "Mr. Pale," the book's one outer-space story, leans heavily on certain tropes about the dilemmas of immortality without actually giving them substance. But in the face of Bradbury's craft and humanity, these are minor flaws. (Oct.) FYI: Bradbury's next novel, From the Dust Returned, is due out from Avon in 1998.
Kirkus Reviews
Arriving too late for a full review, grandmaster Bradbury's latest collection (Quicker Than the Eye, 1996, etc.) consists of 17 new tales and 4 reprints, 197497. Among the themes: gambling, WW II, a dead man who doesn't realize he's dead, sexual awakening and ghost stories, a mysterious theft, a sinister butcher and an equally sinister garbage disposal unit, a man with no face who's an expert car salesman (the title piece), circuses, moths, twins, September, a street-cleaning machine, a persecuted smart kid, Irish blarney, religion, and the death of Death.

Typically diverse, veering between sentiment and nostalgia, and set forth in the curiously mannered, modern-antique style that has become Bradbury's trademark.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780380789603
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/28/1998
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
272

Read an Excerpt

James Cruesoe was in the club car of a train plummeting out of Chicago, rocking and swaying as if it were drunk, when the conductor, lurching by, glanced at the bar, gave Cruesoe a wink, and lurched on. Cruesoe listened.

Uproars, shouts and cries.

That is the sound, he thought, of sheep in panic, glad to be fleeced, or hang gliders, flung off cliffs with no wings.

He blinked.

For there at the bar, drawn to a blind source of joyous consternation, stood a cluster of men glad for highway robbery, pleased to have wallets and wits purloined.

That is to say:gamblers.

Amateur gamblers, Cruesoe thought, and rose to stagger down the aisle to peer over the shoulders of businessmen behaving like high school juniors in full stampede.

"Hey, watch! The Queen comes! She goes. Presto! Where?"

"There!" came the cry.

"Gosh," cried the dealer. "Lost my shirt! Again! Queen up, Queen gone! Where?"

He'll let them win twice, Cruesoe thought. Then spring the trap.

"There!" cried all.

"Good gravy!" shouted the unseen gambler. "I'm sunk!"

Cruesoe had to look, he yearned to see this agile vaudeville magician.

On tiptoe, he parted a few squirming shoulders, not knowing what to expect.

But there sat a man with no fuzzy caterpillar brows or waxed mustaches. No black hair sprouted from his ears or nostrils. His skull did not poke through his skin. He wore an ordinary dove-gray suit with a dark gray tie tied with a proper knot. His fingernails were clean but unmanicured. Stunning! An ordinary citizen, with the serene look of a chap about to lose at cribbage.

Ah, yes, Cruesoe thought, as the gambler shuffledhis cards slowly. That carefulness revealed the imp under the angel's mask. A calliope salesman's ghost lay like a pale epidermis below the man's vest.

"Careful, gents!" He fluttered the cards. "Don't bet too much!"

Challenged, the men shoveled cash into the furnace.

"Whoa! No bets above four bits! Judiciously, sirs!"

The cards leapfrogged as he gazed about, oblivious of his deal.

"Where's my left thumb, my right? Or are there three thumbs?"

They laughed. What a jokester!

"Con--fused, chums? Baffled? Must I lose again?"

"Yes!" all babbled.

"Damn," he said, crippling his hands. "'Damn! Where's the Red Queen? Start over!"

"No! The middle one! Flip it!"

The card was flipped.

"Ohmigod," someone gasped.

"Can't look." The gambler's eyes were shut. "How much did I lose this time?"

"Nothing," someone whispered.

"Nothing?" The gambler, aghast, popped open his eyes.

They all stared at a black card.

"Gosh," said the gambler. "I thought you had me!"

His fingers spidered to the right, another black card, then to the far left. The Queen!

"Hell," he exhaled, "why's she there? Christ, guys, keep your cash!"

"No! No!" A shaking of heads. "You won. You couldn't help it. It was just-"

"Okay. If you insist! Watch out!"

Cruesoe shut his eyes. This, he thought, is the end. From here on they'll lose and bet and lose again. Their fever's up.

"Sorry, gents. Nice try. There!"

Cruesoe felt his hands become fists. He was twelve again, a fake mustache glued to his lip and his school chums at a party and the three-card monte laid out. "Watch the Red Queen vanish!" And the kids shout and laugh as his hands blurred to win their candy but hand it back to show his love.

"One, two, three! Where can she be?"

He felt his mouth whisper the old words, but the voice was the voice of this wizard stealing wallets, counting cash on a late-night train.

"Lost again? God, fellas, quit before your wife shoots you! Okay, Ace of spades, King of clubs, Red Queen. You won't see her again!"

"No! There!"

Cruesoe turned, muttering. Don't listen! Sit! Drink! Forget your twelfth birthday, your friends. Quick!

He took one step when:

"That's three times lost, pals. I must fold my tent and . . ."

"No, no, don't leave now! We got to win the damn stuff back. Deal!"

And as if struck, Cruesoe spun about and returned to the madness.

"The Queen was always there on the left," he said.

Heads turned.

... It was there all the time," Cruesoe said, louder.

"And who are you, sir?" The gambler raked in the cards, not glancing up.

"A boy magician."

"Christ, a boy magician!" The gambler riffled the deck.

The men backed off.

Cruesoe exhaled. "I know how to do the threecard monte."

"Congratulations."

"I won't cut in, I just wanted these good men-"

There was a muted rumble from the good men.

"to know anyone can win at the three-card monte."

Looking away, the gambler gave the cards a toss.

"Okay, wisenheimer, deal! Gents, your bets. Our friend here takes over. Watch his hands."

Cruesoe trembled with cold. The cards lay waiting.

"Okay, son. Grab on!"

"I can't do the trick well, I just know how it's done."

"Ha!" The gambler stared around. "Hear that, chums? Knows how it works, but can't do. Right?"

Cruesoe swallowed. "Right. But-"

"But? Does a cripple show an athlete? A dragfoot pace the sprinter? Gents, you want to change horses out here" He glanced at the window. Lights flashed by. "halfway to Cincinnati?"

The gents, glared and muttered.

"Deal! Show us how you can steal from the poor."

Cruesoe's hands jerked back from the cards as if burnt.

"You prefer not to cheat these idiots in my presence?" the gambler asked.

Clever beast! Hearing themselves so named, the idiots roared assent.

"Can't you see what he's doing?" Cruesoe said.

"Yeah, yeah, we see," they babbled. "Even-steven. Lose some, win some. Why don't you go back where you came from?"

Cruesoe glanced out at a darkness rushing into the past, towns vanishing in night.

"Do you, sir," said the Straight-Arrow gambler, "in front of all these men, accuse me of raping their daughters, molesting their wives?"

Meet the Author

In a career spanning more than seventy years, Ray Bradbury, who died on June 5, 2011 at the age of 91, inspired generations of readers to dream, think, and create. A prolific author of hundreds of short stories and close to fifty books, as well as numerous poems, essays, operas, plays, teleplays, and screenplays, Bradbury was one of the most celebrated writers of our time. His groundbreaking works include Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Dandelion Wine, and Something Wicked This Way Comes. He wrote the screen play for John Huston's classic film adaptation of Moby Dick, and was nominated for an Academy Award. He adapted sixty-five of his stories for television's The Ray Bradbury Theater, and won an Emmy for his teleplay of The Halloween Tree. He was the recipient of the 2000 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the 2004 National Medal of Arts, and the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Special Citation, among many honors.

Throughout his life, Bradbury liked to recount the story of meeting a carnival magician, Mr. Electrico, in 1932. At the end of his performance Electrico reached out to the twelve-year-old Bradbury, touched the boy with his sword, and commanded, "Live forever!" Bradbury later said, "I decided that was the greatest idea I had ever heard. I started writing every day. I never stopped."

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Los Angeles, California
Date of Birth:
August 22, 1920
Place of Birth:
Waukegan, Illinois
Education:
Attended schools in Waukegan, Illinois, and Los Angeles, California
Website:
http://www.raybradbury.com

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