Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

In my previous review of The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, I mentioned depressing books. One of the titles that I had in mind was Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, which I just read for a book discussion. I am not knocking Bradbury for his imaginative story not only exposed problems of his own times but foresaw some of the troubling trends in 21st century. It is depressing but essential to read.

We had a good variety of ages for our group discussion, which helped with our exploring Bradbury's context. Some of us remember the 1950s and strong forces compelling everyone to conform to societal norms, a movement that may have lost strength but has not actually gone away. Others first encountered Fahrenheit 451 as assigned high school reading, along with Lord of the Flies and 1984. No one was unaware of Bradbury's tale, but it was a good time to revisit this story that includes earbuds that deliver sound and music, big flat-screen televisions showing a police chase live, and robot drones used to deliver death.

In case you have never read Fahrenheit 451, do not expect to understand what is happening from the beginning. Give the story a chance to develop and stay open to surprising developments throughout the story. Late night might not be a good time if you like to sleep undisturbed. Save the forewords for afterwards.

Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. Ballantine Books, 1953. 147p.

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