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One of the most acclaimed and beloved of American storytellers, Ray Bradbury has come home, revisiting the verdant landscape of one of his most adored works, Dandelion Wine. More than fifty years in the making, the long-awaited sequel, Farewell Summer, is a treasure-beautiful, poignant, wistful, hilarious, sad, evocative, profound, and unforgettable...and proof positive that the flame of wonder still burns brightly within the irrepressible imagination of the incomparable Bradbury.
There are those days which seem a taking in of breath which, held, suspends the whole earth in its waiting. Some summers refuse to end.
So along the road those flowers spread that, when touched, give down a shower of autumn rust. By every path it looks as if a ruined circus had passed and loosed a trail of ancient iron at every turning of a wheel. The rust was laid out everywhere, strewn under trees and by riverbanks and near the tracks themselves where once a locomotive had gone but went no more. So flowered flakes and railroad track together turned to moulderings upon the rim of autumn.
"Look, Doug," said Grandpa, driving into town from the farm. Behind them in the Kissel Kar were six large pumpkins picked fresh from the patch. "See those flowers?"
"Farewell summer, Doug. That's the name of those flowers. Feel the air? August come back. Farewell summer."
"Boy," said Doug, "that's a sad name."
Grandma stepped into her pantry and felt the wind blowing from the west. The yeast was rising in the bowl, a sumptuous head, the head of an alien rising from the yield of other years. She touched the swell beneath the muslin cap. It was the earth on the morn before the arrival of Adam. It was the mornafter the marriage of Eve to that stranger in the garden bed.
Grandma looked out the window at the way the sunlight lay across the yard and filled the apple trees with gold and echoed the same words:
"Farewell summer. Here it is, October 1st. Temperature's 82. Season just can't let go. The dogs are out under the trees. The leaves won't turn. A body would like to cry and laughs instead. Get up to the attic, Doug, and let the mad maiden aunt out of the secret room."
"Is there a mad maiden aunt in the attic?" asked Doug.
"No, but there should be."
Clouds passed over the lawn. And when the sun came out, in the pantry, Grandma almost whispered, Summer, farewell.
On the front porch, Doug stood beside his grandfather, hoping to borrow some of that far sight, beyond the hills, some of the wanting to cry, some of the ancient joy. The smell of pipe tobacco and Tiger shaving tonic had to suffice. A top spun in his chest, now light, now dark, now moving his tongue with laughter, now filling his eyes with salt water.
He surveyed the lake of grass below, all the dandelions gone, a touch of rust in the trees, and the smell of Egypt blowing from the far east.
"Think I'll go eat me a doughnut and take me a nap," Doug said.
Excerpted from Farewell Summer LP by Ray Bradbury Copyright © 2007 by Ray Bradbury. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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On an early October day, with summer still lingering, thirteen-year-old Douglas Spaulding dreams that he is set adrift alone on a ship as his family and friends remain on the shore, waving good-bye. This disturbing dream catapults Douglas, his younger brother, Tom, and their friends into a "civil war" with the elderly men of the town, who are led by Calvin C. Quartermain, chairman of the school board.
The conflict's first shot, fired by Doug, fells Mr. Braling, an elderly man and close friend of Quartermain, and the war begins in earnest. A series of skirmishes between Douglas's and Quartermain's respective forces ensue for control over the boys' lives and destinies, and culminates in the boys' assault on the town courthouse tower clock in an attempt to literally stop Time and remain as they are. Eventually, Douglas learns about the inevitability of maturity when Lisabell, whom he met at a party thrown by Quartermain, kisses him.
In a scene reminiscent of the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, both sides learn their lesson about the inevitability of adulthood and death, and the futility of warring against the inexorable march of Time. Peace is declared. As Doug and Tom lie in bed, they hear the wind outside blow the last leaves from the trees. Summer has ended, and Autumn has begun.
Questions for Discussion
1. The three parts of the novel are named for famous battles of the Civil War; Antietam, Shiloh, and Appomattox. Antietam was the single bloodiest day of the war and a somewhat inconclusive victory for the North due to the failure to pursue and destroy the Confederate Army. Shiloh was a draw that could have beena Union disaster because of poor positioning of the troops. Appomattox is almost a synonym for surrender and the end of a war. How do these titles reflect the action of the book and how are the events in each part illustrative of the Civil War battles? Why do you think Bradbury named each part in this fashion?
2. The title Farewell Summer means more than merely a goodbye to a season. What is the phrase "farewell summer" a metaphor for? What other than a season are the characters, specifically Douglas and Quartermain, saying goodbye to?
3. At the beginning of the novel, Douglas has a dream—a nightmare, really—in which he is set adrift on a ship by himself as his family and friends say goodbye to him from the dock (pp. 9—11). When Douglas awakens why is he so afraid of the dream, and how does this lead to his subsequent actions in the novel? What is Douglas afraid of, other than the obvious motif of death?
4. What is the importance of Douglas's grandfather to the novel? Why does the grandfather, also an elderly man, seem to be above the conflict? Why does Douglas not include him among the enemy?
5. When Bleak accuses Quartermain of cutting himself off from life because he never married and had children (pp. 148165) Bleak states that all of life is about letting go. How is Quartermain's problem, the refusal to let go, similar to Douglas's refusal to grow up? Do both characters essentially have the same problem, a refusal to accept that growth and change are a part of life and that they cannot do anything to stop it?
Dandelion Wine was published in 1957, and Farewell Summer is the sequel to that beloved novel. In case you would like to include Dandelion Wine as part of your discussion, as well, here are some questions that address both novels to help you direct your reading group's conversation.
1. The ravine figures largely in both novels, but is treated differently in each. How is the ravine different in each novel? Does it have the same importance in both stories? Are there any similarities between the two novels in the representation of the ravine?
2. Both novels contain a scene in which organization is considered stifling. In Dandelion Wine, the aunt organizes the grandmother's kitchen and the grandmother is no longer able to cook. In Farewell Summer, part of the reason the boys attack the clock at the old courthouse is because the courthouse symbolizes where their lives are recorded and organized. What is Bradbury saying about the power of bureaucracy and organization in these two scenes? Must this power be thrown off completely, or can some accommodation be made with it? Does each novel present the same conclusion about this power?
3. Both novels present a piece of a past boyhood summer. How are the depictions of the past summers different in each novel? Are both depictions nostalgic? Why or why not?
4. How is the character of Douglas different in each of the two novels? How is he the same? What are the reasons for the similarities and differences?
5. Both novels deal with the theme of the fear of death. In Dandelion Wine, the losses with which Douglas deals lead to his fever. In Farewell Summer, this fear leads to war. How is the fear of death "cured" in each novel? How are the cures similar or different? Why do you think Douglas is so preoccupied with death?
Posted December 9, 2008
In 1928 in Green Town, Illinois with school to shortly commence twelve years old Douglas Spaulding leads his brother and their friends in a make believe war against the town¿s older male citizens. Their childish mischief irks octogenarian Calvin C. Quartermain, who expects children to respect not harass the elderly. After a cap gun raid followed by the abduction of chess pieces, Calvin, invoking his memories as a young teen during the Civil War, mounts a counter offensive while the courthouse big clock keeps on ticking.------------------ The war between the young and the old escalates with neither side ready to capitulate or allow the sandwich generation to intercede with a punishing self-serving truce. However, the two ring leaders quickly gain respect for one another, but it is life that intervenes when Doug discovers he likes girls more than war.---------------- Ray Bradbury is at his best with his expanding a tale included in his work DANDELION WINE. The lead ¿generals¿ make the tale as both start out with dissing their adversary, but soon respect their opponent. Both soon realize they walk in the same shoes as Calvin sees Doug as his past and Doug sees Calvin as his future. One of the grandmasters of twentieth century literature, Mr. Bradbury is still in top form with a superior character study that looks at time ticking with a child eventually becoming the adult.---------
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Posted September 1, 2010
Farewell Summer, by Ray Bradbury, a sequel to Dandelion Wine, disappointed me greatly. It is about a group of pre-teen boys who learn the lessons of growing up. They play cap-gun fights, and steal certain pieces from the small town they live in. On the way, they meet a Mr.Quartermain, who ends up being the person who tries to beat the boys at everything. However, the boys eventually find that some things are more important that others.
The story takes place in a small town in the 1920's, where summer isn't quite ready to leave the area. This book is a book with very in-depth lessons. To be able to understand it, you must really sit down for a couple hours, and reread most of the pages. For me, it just takes the fun out of reading, and I think that's one of the reasons I didn't like it.
I found the book incredibly disappointing, because it was boring to read. I didn't get into it at all, and I dreaded having to read it. The reason I gave it a whole star, though, is because the actual writing, not the plot, was not bad. Some descriptions were good; however they were not about the right things. Instead of describing something vital to the story, the author would describe for pages something completely irrelevant to the story line.
I would not recommend this book to anybody. Reading reviews, some people like it, but I find it so indescribably hard to get into I don't know why they like it. However, if you must read the book, try to read the first one, Dandelion Wine, and it might be slightly easier to understand.
Posted October 31, 2008
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Posted December 8, 2009
No text was provided for this review.