[Reading] ➱ A Graveyard for Lunatics: Another Tale of Two Cities ➹ Ray Bradbury – Dolove.info
It s 1954 and the young narrator is a scriptwriter for Maximus Films, a character that echoes Bradbury s own worship of the Golden Age of Hollywood Adjacent to the vast film studio complex is Green Glades Cemetery Here, one rain sodden night he witnesses a revelation I heard a ghost sigh somewhere, but it was only my own lungs pumping like a bellows, trying to light some sort of fire in my chest p9 The revelation was a lifelike dummy of the dead studio head J.C Arbuthnot, who died twenty years ago in a car crash He enlists his best friend Roy Holdstrom an inventor of science fiction sets, monsters and special effects to solve the mystery On the way he meets wildly eccentric characters, among them a drunken ham Shakespearean actor, J.C., who states, I do not dare, sir I amIt s clear that these books are Bradbury s reminiscences of his time when a young teenager hovering around the periphery of the movies His early influences were King Kong and the Hunchback of Notre Dame It was like having an affair with Kong, who fell on me when I was thirteen I had never escaped from beneath his heart beating carcass p4 Bradbury would spend many a day in front of the studio gates of Paramount and Columbia hoping for autographs He d watch film stars come and go at the Brown Derby restaurant and all these places figure in this novel One of the tragic characters, Clarence is clearly modelled on himself, though older Instantly my soul flashed out of my body and ran back It was 1934 and I was mulched in among the ravening crowd, waving pads and pens pursuing Marlene Dietrich into her hairdresser s or running after Cary Grant Friday nights p15 This book is dedicated to a few folk of his acquaintance, among them some deceased Fritz Lang and James Hong Howe And his friend Ray Harryhausen, who was alive when this was written Roy Holdstrom is modelled on Harryhausen, and the character Fritz Wong is an amalgam of Lang and Howe The narrator s investigator pal Crumley is named after the crime writer James Crumley Manny Leiber who intended cutting Judas from a Biblical film because he didn t want to make an anti Semitic movie may well be named after fellow science fiction author Fritz Leiber There may be other allusions I ve missed.The tale is typical Hollywood scandal and cover up Nothing new there, then Fittingly, Crumley states, Sometimes dead folks in graves have power than live folks above p186 The beginning contains some excellent imagery and writing It starts with the narrator observing there were two cities within a city one moved restlessly all day while the other never stirred One was warm and filled with ever changing lights One was cold and fixed in place by stones Maximus Films, the living, and Green Glades Cemetery, the dead p3 Ten thousand deaths had happened here, and when the deaths were done, the people got up, laughing, and strolled away Whole tenement blocks were set afire and did not burn p3 And From here Dracula wandered as flesh to return as dust Here also were the Stations of the Cross and a trail of ever replenished blood as screenwriters groaned by to Calvary carrying a backbreaking load of revisions, pursued by directors with scourges and film cutters with razor sharp knives p4 Besides transposed reminiscences and mystery, there s humour they were looking at a huge display of coffins How come so many I asked To bury all the turkeys the studio will make between now and Thanksgiving p37 And when turning up at the Brown Derby, the maitre d accosts them Of course, you have no reservations he observed languidly About this place said Roy Plenty p59 While Bradbury didn t shy away from acknowledging the grim underbelly of the world in this book and others, yet he preserved an incorrigible innocence too, encapsulated by Constance, a faded movie star, telling him How lucky to be inside your skin, so goddamned na ve Don t ever change p131 She also makes the observation, That s no hospital It s where great elephant ideas go to die A graveyard for lunatics p140 hence the book s title.Whimsical and sometimes silly, with a plot that barely hangs together for all those depicted years, it s still a worthy addition to the Bradbury collection, and as hinted at above there s much to admire However, if you ve never read any Ray Bradbury, this is not the best place to start. Great novel that really captures the spirit of old Hollywood I loved the studio drama and the writing was classic Bradbury I thought that it failed a little as a Mystery story because I was way ahead of the protagonist Read Death is a Lonely Business before you start this novel though, you will be thankful for the Character development that he builds on from the previous book. Halloween Night, A Young, Film Obsessed Scriptwriter Has Just Been Hired At One Of The Great Studios An Anonymous Investigation Leads From The Giant Maximus Films Backlot To An Eerie Graveyard Separated From The Studio By A Single Wall There He Makes A Terrifying Discovery That Thrusts Him Into A Maelstrom Of Intrigue And Mystery And Into The Dizzy Exhilaration Of The Movie Industry At The Height Of Its Glittering Power I lived in Venice Beach California at the time I read this book, and the coolest thing about it, was some of the book took place not far from where I lived I was working on writing my first screenplay when my roommate walked into my office and put that book on the bookshelf He said a friend gave it to him I wasn t a really big reader back then, but we didn t have cable or satellite in our apartment So after a few hours of boredom I picked it up I mean, how bad could it be, it s freakin Ray Bradbury I have to admit, it was nothing like I thought it would be, it was better, and not a stitch of science fiction I honestly didn t know what the book was about before reading it.Maybe it s because I love movies, and I was in the middle of writing a script myself, but I totally gobbled up this book Lots of twists and turns, and the coolest thing is a lot of the places that events in the book took place are actual places in Hollywood It made it seem real, and that was probably the coolest thing about it You don t have to live in California, or even had to visit it though, because Mr Bradbury s writing style in this is super, and puts your mind right there. If I could give this book 2.5 stars, I probably would It is one of the disappointing books I have read during the Bradbury project As it stands, I am going to give it the benefit of the doubt perhaps I just read this on an off day.This is the sequel to Death is a Lonely Business, picking up a few years later with the main character now working for a movie studio Many of the characters from the previous book show up as well, including Constance Rattigan, Inspector Crumley and old, blind Henry The unnamed protagonist is clearly a Bradbury stand in, and there are many new faces too Although not strictly autobiographical, many of these characters are clearly drawn from Bradbury s own experiences working in the film industry and acquaintances he made there.Naturally, there is a mystery to solve and weird things begin to happen at the movie studio The narrator discovers a body that turns out to be a fake Yet many of the studio executives freak out when they learn about the fake body And so the plot is set in motion, with the writer narrator and his friend, FX wiz Roy Holdstrom, caught in the middle of things.The major problems with the book for me were twofold First, it felt overwrought and second, the central mystery was easily solved.Everyone knows that Bradbury has a melodramatic style, and occasionally uses flourishes of language and emotion that would feel right at home in Romantic era poetry This works OK in moderation, and certainly in the short stories for which he is best known it is an asset In a longer piece of storytelling such as this, it becomes tedious I wished at times that the characters would stop yelling, crying or devolving into crazed mutterings It just didn t work for me.On the second point, I couldn t tell if Bradbury intended to tip his hand on the solution of the central mysteries of the book e.g who is the Beast and what really happened on the night Arbuthnot died , but I figured out the answers to these major plot questions very early on about 1 3 of the way in Because I knew than the narrator, I grew increasingly impatient with Crumley and the writer for not knowing what was going on How could they be so blind Overall, a mediocre book Perhaps it was meant as a commentary on the film industry, but I couldn t get past the problems mentioned above to enjoy it on that level either. Hm Well this is weird because Bradbury is a genius and I loved all of the books and short stories by him I ve read to date, so it feels weird to say this, but the book just wasn t very good Ray Bradbury wrote a book that was not very good Weird.The positive things I can say about it are that, as always, Ray Bradbury is great with creating memorable characters, and he s very very good with dialogue This book is no exception I was especially a huge fan of J.C an eccentric Jesus look alike actor who has been pretending to be Jesus for so long that he has become Jesus , and Fritz Wong an eccentric, nocturnal, monocled director from Nazi Germany whose favorite way to greet thank someone is to brazenly insult them.But how does a Ray Bradbury story go wrong Well, for starters, Bradbury is excellent with metaphor and imagery, but even a master like Bradbury lays it on a little too thick at times There are various points in the story where Ray waxes poetic about some aspect of the movie business he s enad with, and rather than it being great, you get this awkward feeling that he s getting carried away with this metaphor that just seems to go on and on, and you wonder when he s going to snap out of it and get back to the story.But the thing that really damns the story is that it s just not that well put together It s essentially a mystery story, but in a mystery story you want your mystery to be compelling as soon as it s introduced, and the mystery that kicks off this story is pretty impotent The protagonist receives a mysterious note asking him to come to the graveyard at midnight So he goes there, and he finds a body that looks exactly like the former studio head who died years ago Turns out the body is fake, though It s a stuffed dummy that someone made look like the former studio head, and then they put it here in the graveyard Huh That s a pretty weird thing for someone to do Wonder why they made this dummy and put it here.And that s literally the mystery that kicks off the story Someone left a stuffed dummy lying around Not very compelling to say the least The characters are super intrigued by it and are certain that someone is up to no good with that dummy , but you just don t share their intrigue, because the mystery is hard to be intrigued by.Of course the mystery DOES get complex once Bradbury introduces The Beast a hideously disfigured man, seemingly of mind boggling wealth, and shrouded in mystery Almost nobody knows he exists, and the ones who do know he exists refuse to talk about him, and the ones who do talk about him end up dead That s a little interesting Too bad it s blatantly obvious who he is and what is going on before you reach even the middle of the book A lot of times with mystery stories, the writer is clever enough to leave a lot of different possibilities open, letting you draw many different conclusions, most of them wrong Bradbury muddies the waters about certain details of the mystery, but the biggest mystery of the entire story is as obvious as the nose on your face.So the end result is that you end up reading this story where the narrative gesticulates like mysterious and thrilling things are happening and the characters are all intrigued and unnerved by the goings on, but their behavior comes off as affected and farcical, because as the reader you already know what s going on it s pretty obvious and you just wish they d drop the pretenses and get on with it already.Bradbury is amazing, but this one s proof that even a genius can strike out on occasion. it s a follow up sort of to Bradbury s Death is a Lonely Business which i hadn t realized when i bought it the copy i got online has one of the greatest inscriptions i ve ever found and i can t believe anyone ever let it go, honestly Christmas 1993Just in case you haven t read this one or read it long enough ago so it s worth re reading here s a lively graveyard to go digging around in You might even share it with your ghoul friend Dad Julie For while the people had gone away, they left behind them architectures that were haunted by the ghosts of incredible happenings p 3 Life is like underwear, should be changed twice a day p 139 Did you recognize him He was unrecognizable He had eyes Eyes don t change p 140 All the bones in my body collapsed at that smile God, I thought, has she always won, every day, all her life, with that mouth and those teeth and those great pretend innocent eyes p 140 Bradbury offers us his usual tight storytelling and a deep sense of time and place While many people may remember Fahrenheit 451 from their high school or college reading list, I m not sure the general reading public recognizes his place among American writers His work is acclaimed and with good reason Bradbury wrote science fiction, horror, mystery, and fantasy His 1957 novel Dandelion Wine is as fine an evocation of small town life at the beginning of the 20th Century as anything I ve ever read.Drawing on his own life, he examines the movie industry at the waning years of the studio system It is reverent, and real and just enough off center to bring a tingle of horror and mystery.Lovely stuff. I gave this book three stars because, while I did not like the story so much, Ray Bradbury is such a genius that I can dislike a story he created and still see the wit and genius in it.Oh, Ray Bradbury, how I love you I will not speak of Brandbury in the past tense his genius lives on.As I sai, I really did not like the story so much I figured out the identity of the Beast quite early in the story, although I did not figure out any of the rest of the pieces to complete the puzzle My favorite two parts of the story The maitre d of the Brown Derby lifted his left eyebrow as we arrived A former dog lover, he now only loved cats We smelled funny Of course you have no reservations he observed, languidly About this place said Roy Plenty Ah The wit And my second favorite passage Insane people give me hopeThe insane have decided to stay on, Crumly said They love life so much that, rather than destroy it, they go behind a self made wall to hide Pretend not to hear, but they do hear Pretend not to see, but see Insanity says I hate living but love life Hate the rules but do likeme So, rather than drop in graves, i hide out Not in liquor, nor in bed under sheets, nor in a needle s prick or snuffs of white powder, but in madness On my own shelf, in my own rafters, under my own silent roof So, yeah, insane people give me hope Courage to go on being sane and alive, always with the cure at hand, should I ever tire and need it madnessIf you got to choose between a billion years of darkness, no sun ever again, wouldn t you choose catatonia You could still enjoy green grass and air that smells like cut watermelons Still touch your knee, when no one was looking And all the while, you pretend not to care But you care so mich that you build a crystal coffin and seal it on yourself Ah The insight RB is my love, but really this one was only okay I read a review once of Bradbury s body of work that said that eventually, you feel like you know all his tricks To be fair, the man published over 600 short stories plus an obscene amount of novels, so, yeah, after a while, you get the gist I hope that isn t happening to me Too many exclamation marks Too slow until the very end Could never quite get immersed in it But he writes with love and enthusiasm than almost any other writer I ve ever read you can feel how much he loves stories and movies and Hollywood throughout A charming almost boyish enthusiasm for life Way Phantom of the Opera influence than I expected.