From the Dust Returned

From the Dust Returned

4.5 20
by Ray Bradbury

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Ray Bradbury, America's most beloved storyteller, has spent a lifetime carrying readers to exhilarating and dangerous places, from dark street comers in unfamiliar cities and towns to the edge of the universe. Now, in an extraordinary flight of the imagination a half-century in the making, he takes us to a most wondrous destination: into the heart of an

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Ray Bradbury, America's most beloved storyteller, has spent a lifetime carrying readers to exhilarating and dangerous places, from dark street comers in unfamiliar cities and towns to the edge of the universe. Now, in an extraordinary flight of the imagination a half-century in the making, he takes us to a most wondrous destination: into the heart of an Eternal Family.

They have lived for centuries in a house of legend and mystery in upper Illinois — and they are not like other midwesterners. Rarely encountered in daylight hours, their children are curious and wild; their old ones have survived since before the Sphinx first sank its paws deep in Egyptian sands. And some sleep in beds with lids.

Now the house is being readied in anticipation of the gala homecoming that will gather together the farflung branches of this odd and remarkable family. In the past-midnight stillness can be detected the soft fluttering of Uncle Einars wings. From her realm of sleep, Cecy, the fairest and most special daughter, can feel the approach of many a welcome being — shapeshifter, telepath, somnambulist, vampire — as she flies high in the consciousness of bird and bat.

But in the midst of eager anticipation, a sense of doom pervades. For the world is changing. And death, no stranger, will always shadow this most singular family: Father, arisen from the Earth; Mother, who never sleeps but dreams; A Thousand Times Great Grandmére; Grandfather, who keeps the wildness of youth between his ears.

And the boy who, more than anyone, carries the burden of time on his shoulders: Timothy, the sad and different foundling son who must share it all, remember, and tell...and who, alone out of all of them, must one day age and wither and die.

By turns lyrical, wistful, poignant, and chilling, From the Dust Returned is the long-awaited new novel by the peerless Ray Bradbury — a book that will surely be numbered among his most enduring masterworks.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
If there's a fountain of youth, Bradbury has found it. In the 1940s, at the start of his extraordinary writing career, Bradbury produced a series of popular fantasy short stories about the Elliot family, an assortment of vampires and other odd creatures of various degrees of humanity living in a Victorian castle in the golden Indiana of his youth. More than half a century later, he has fashioned from these stories a novel, funny, beautiful, sad and wise, to rank with his finest work. Full of wide-eyed wonder and dazzling imagery, the stories retain as an integrated whole all their original freshness and charm. The plot is simplicity itself: the vampires and their weird kin gather for a homecoming and share memories. Among them are Timothy, a foundling, whose pet spider is named Arach (originally Spid), and Cecy, immobile in bed but able to enter the minds of others and control their actions. Once, Cecy got a young woman to treat an unwanted but worthy suitor more politely than she would have otherwise: "Peering down from the secret attic of this lovely head, Cecy yanked a hidden copper ventriloquist's wire and the pretty mouth popped wide: `Thank you.' " Einar, a winged man, acts as a kite for children, writing "a great and magical exclamation mark across a cloud!" Most memorable of a remarkable cast are A Thousand Times Great Grand-Mere, who had been "a pharaoh's daughter dressed in spider linens," and her husband, Grand-Pere, who after four thousand years still has ideas. "At your age!" she snaps. This book will shame the cynics and delight the true believers who never lost faith in their beloved author. (Oct. 8) FYI: Last fall Bradbury received the National Book Foundation's 2000 Medalfor Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Bradbury is the author of over 500 published works in a variety of genres, among them such classics as Fahrenheit 451. In a novel first conceived over 50 years ago, he reintroduces readers to the unforgettable Elliott family. (The Elliotts originally appeared in Bradbury's debut short-story collection, Dark Carnival, 1948, which was later reprinted in 1955 as The October Country.) Written in trademark Bradbury style, the book reads like liquid poetry while telling the interconnected stories of a number of unusual yet strangely familiar family members. The actions and reactions of Timothy, a family foundling who functions as their historian (and also happens to be human and therefore remarkable), serve as the common thread linking many of these tales. The book's publication coincides with the publisher's launch of a new author web site at A new novel by Bradbury is an event worth noting, and this is a necessary purchase for all public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/01.] Rachel Singer Gordon, Franklin Park Lib., IL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.72(d)

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Chapter One

The Town and the Place

At first, A Thousand Times Great Grandmère said, there was only a place on the long plain of grass and a hill on which was nothing at all but more grass and a tree that was as crooked as a fork of black lightning on which nothing grew until the town came and the House arrived.

We all know how a town can gather need by need until suddenly its heart starts up and circulates the people to their destinations. But how, you ask, does a house arrive?

The fact is that the tree was there and a lumberman passing to the Far West leaned against it, and guessed it to be before Jesus sawed wood and shaved planks in his father's yard or Pontius Pilate washed his palms. The tree, some said, beckoned the House out of tumults of weather and excursions of Time. Once the House was there, with its cellar roots deep in Chinese tombyards, it was of such a magnificence, echoing facades last seen in London, that wagons, intending to cross the river, hesitated with their families gazing up and decided if this empty place was good enough for a papal palace, a royal monument, or a queen's abode, there hardly seemed a reason to leave. So the wagons stopped, the horses were watered, and when the families looked, they found their shoes as well as their souls had sprouted roots. So stunned were they by the House up there by the lightning-shaped tree, that they feared if they left the House would follow in their dreams and spoil all the waiting places ahead.

So the House arrived first and its arrival was the stuff offurther legends, myths, or drunken nonsense.

It seems there was a wind that rose over the plains bringing with it a gentle rain that turned into a storm that funneled a hurricane of great strength. Between midnight and dawn, this portmanteau-storm lifted any moveable object between the fort towns of Indiana and Ohio, stripped the forests in upper Illinois, and arrived over the as-yet-unborn site, settled, and with the level hand of an unseen god deposited, shakeboard by shakeboard and shingle by shingle, an arousal of timber that shaped itself long before sunrise as something dreamed of by Rameses but finished by Napoleon fled from dreaming Egypt.

There were enough beams within to roof St. Peter's and enough windows to sun-blind a bird migration. There was a porch skirted all around with enough space to rock a celebration of relatives and boarders. Inside the windows loomed a cluster, a hive, a maze of rooms, sufficient to a roster, a squad, a battalion of as yet unborn legions, but haunted by the promise of their coming.

The House, then, was finished and capped before the stars dissolved into light and it stood alone on its promontory for many years, somehow failing to summon its future children. There must be a mouse in every warren, a cricket on every hearth, smoke in the multitudinous chimneys, and creatures, almost human, icing every bed. Then: mad dogs in yards, live gargoyles on roofs. All waited for some immense thunderclap of the long departed storm to shout: Begin!

And, finally, many long years later, it did.

From the Dust Returned. Copyright © by Ray Bradbury. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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