The October Country

The October Country

4.5 13
by Ray Bradbury
     
 

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Welcome to a land Ray Bradbury calls "the Undiscovered Country" of his imagination--that vast territory of ideas, concepts, notions and conceits where the stories you now hold were born. America's premier living author of short fiction, Bradbury has spent many lifetimes in this remarkable place--strolling through empty, shadow-washed fields at midnight;

Overview

Welcome to a land Ray Bradbury calls "the Undiscovered Country" of his imagination--that vast territory of ideas, concepts, notions and conceits where the stories you now hold were born. America's premier living author of short fiction, Bradbury has spent many lifetimes in this remarkable place--strolling through empty, shadow-washed fields at midnight; exploring long-forgotten rooms gathering dust behind doors bolted years ago to keep strangers locked out.. and secrets locked in. The nights are longer in this country. The cold hours of darkness move like autumn mists deeper and deeper toward winter. But the moonlight reveals great magic here--and a breathtaking vista.

The October Country is many places: a picturesque Mexican village where death is a tourist attraction; a city beneath the city where drowned lovers are silently reunited; a carnival midway where a tiny man's most cherished fantasy can be fulfilled night after night. The October Country's inhabitants live, dream, work, die--and sometimes live again--discovering, often too late, the high price of citizenship. Here a glass jar can hold memories and nightmares; a woman's newborn child can plot murder; and a man's skeleton can war against him. Here there is no escaping the dark stranger who lives upstairs...or the reaper who wields the world. Each of these stories is a wonder, imagined by an acclaimed tale-teller writing from a place shadows. But there is astonishing beauty in these shadows, born from a prose that enchants and enthralls. Ray Bradbury's The October Country is a land of metaphors that can chill like a long-after-midnight wind...as they lift the reader high above a sleeping Earth on the strange wings of Uncle Einar.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062242259
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
04/30/2013
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
74,641
Lexile:
780L (what's this?)
File size:
3 MB

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

The Dwarf

Aimee watched the sky, quietly.

Tonight was one of those motionless hot summer nights. The concrete pier empty, the strung red, white, yellow bulbs burning like insects in the air above the wooden emptiness. The managers of the various carnival pitches stood, like melting wax dummies, eyes staring blindly, not talking, all down the line.

Two customers had passed through an hour before. Those two lonely people were now in the roller coaster, screaming murderously as it plummeted down the blazing night, around one emptiness after another.

Aimee moved slowly across the strand, a few worn wooden hoopla rings sticking to her wet hands. She stopped behind the ticket booth that fronted the MIRROR MAZE. She saw herself grossly misrepresented in three rippled mirrors outside the Maze. A thousand tired replicas of herself dissolved in the corridor beyond, hot images among so much clear coolness.

She stepped inside the ticket booth and stood looking a long while at Ralph Banghart's thin neck. He clenched an unlit cigar between his long uneven yellow teeth as he laid out a battered game of solitaire on the ticket shelf

When the roller coaster walled and fell in its terrible avalanche again, she was reminded to speak.

"What kind of people go up in roller coasters?"

Ralph Banghart worked his cigar a full thirty seconds. "People wanna die. That rollie coaster's the handiest thing to dying there is." He sat listening to the faint sound of rifle shots from the shooting gallery. "This whole damn carny business's crazy. For instance, that dwarf You seen him? Every night, pays his dime, runs in the Mirror Maze allthe way back through to Screwy Louie's Room. You should see this little runt head back there. My God!"

"Oh, yes," said Aimee, remembering. "I always wonder what it's like to be a dwarf I always feel sorry when I see him."

"I could play him like an accordion."

"Don't say that!"

"My Lord." Ralph patted her thigh with a free hand. "The way you carry on about guys you never even met." He shook his head and chuckled. "Him and his secret. Only he don't know I know, see? Boy howdy!"

"It's a hot night." She twitched the large wooden hoops nervously on her damp fingers.

"Don't change the subject. He'll be here, rain or shine."

Aimee shifted her weight.

Ralph seized her elbow. "Hey! You ain't mad? You wanna see that dwarf, don't you? Sh!" Ralph turned. "Here he comes now!"

The Dwarfs hand, hairy and dark, appeared all by itself reaching up into the booth window with a silver dime. An invisible person called, "One!" in a high, child's voice.

Involuntarily, Aimee bent forward.

The Dwarf looked up at her, resembling nothing more than a dark-eyed, dark-haired, ugly man who has been locked in a winepress, squeezed and wadded down and down, fold on fold, agony on agony, until a bleached, outraged mass is left, the face bloated shapelessly, a face you know must stare wide-eyed and awake at two and three and four o'clock in the morning, lying flat in bed, only the body asleep.

Ralph tore a yellow ticket in half "One!"

The Dwarf, as if frightened by an approaching storm, pulled his black coat-lapels tightly about his throat and waddled swiftly. A moment later, ten thousand lost and wandering dwarfs wriggled between the mirror flats, like frantic dark beetles, and vanished.

"Quick!"

Ralph squeezed Aimee along a dark passage behind the mirrors. She felt him pat her all the way back through the tunnel to a thin partition with a peekhole.

"This is rich," he chuckled. "Go on-look."

Aimee hesitated, then put her face to the partition.

"You see him?" Ralph whispered.

Aimee felt her heart beating. A full minute passed.

There stood the Dwarf in the middle of the small blue room. His eyes were shut. He wasn't ready to open them yet. Now, now he opened his eyelids and looked at a large mirror set before him. And what he saw in the mirror made him smile. He winked, he pirouetted, he stood sidewise, he waved, he bowed, he did a little clumsy dance.

And the mirror repeated each motion with long, thin arms, with a tall, tall body, with a huge wink and an enormous repetition of the dance, ending in a gigantic bow!

"Every night the same thing," whispered Ralph in Aimee's ear. "Ain't that rich?"

Aimee turned her head and looked at Ralph steadily out of her motionless face, for a long time, and she said nothing. Then, as if she could not help herself, she moved her head slowly and very slowly back to stare once more through the opening. She held her breath. She felt her eyes begin to water.

Ralph nudged her, whispering.

"Hey, what's the little gink doin' now?"

They were drinking coffee and not looking at each other in the ticket booth half an hour later, when the Dwarf came out of the mirrors. He took his hat off and started to approach the booth, when he saw Aimee and hurried away.

"He wanted something," said Aimee.

"Yeah." Ralph squashed out his cigarette, idly. I know what, too. But he hasn't got the nerve to ask. One night in this squeaky little voice he says, 'I bet those mirrors are expensive.' Well, I played dumb. I said yeah they were. He sort of looked at me, waiting, and when I didn't say any more, he went home, but next night he said, 'I bet those mirrors cost fifty, a hundred bucks.' I bet they do, I said. I laid me out a hand of solitaire."

"Ralph," she said.

He glanced up. "Why you look at me that way?"

"Ralph," she said, "why don't you sell him one of your extra ones?"

Meet the Author

Ray Bradbury (22 August 1920 - 5 June 2012) published some 500 short stories, novels, plays and poems since his first story appeared in Weird Tales when he was twenty years old. Among his many famous works are 'Fahrenheit 451,' 'The Illustrated Man,' and 'The Martian Chronicles.'

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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The October Country 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've always been a fan of Ray Bradbury's novels, but this is the first time I've read his collection of short stories. Except for "The Watchful Poker Chip of H. Matisse," I have enjoyed what I have read thus far. (I'm halfway through the book.) The stories are riveting, creepy and at times shocking. A great read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Always a little unsettling but at least he never tried to make his land a religion he said he wrote a chapter every day did mailing etc on sat and rested on sunday whether he sold one or not there is a childrens book based on oct that i cant locate
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am an avid fan of Bradbury, and I think this is the best book by him that I've ever read. There is a different plot for each story in the book, which makes it easier to read. If you've never read anything by Ray Bradbury, this is a good book to start with.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago