The Illustrated Man|Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury

I would say, the preface/prologue/introduction piece of Ray Bradbury’sThe Illustrated Man (1951) is one beautiful piece of writing.

It could be that love is too generic a term to describe the fascination and attraction to something of this kind; add in the factors of transience, add in the fact that love is with the words on the page. But these strings of words create an urge and manipulates (there, it is ironical to use in this instance, but think positive manipulation, then it turns oxymoronic :P) the senses of a feel of what it describes… I could see his plate, while reading about it.

It was love alright last night. And you have seen me post these bits on FB… Some of you have even started on the same path I’ve walked through since last night ….

Since I’m in a trance, it looks to me impossible to resist the urge …”It was a warm afternoon in early September when I first met the Illustrated Man. Walking along an asphalt road, I was or the final leg of a two weeks’ walking tour of Wisconsin. Late in the afternoon I stopped, ate some pork, beans, and a doughnut, and was preparing to stretch out and read when the Illustrated Man walked over the hill and stood for a moment against the sky..”

Half way through I was reading it aloud, hearing my own voice narrating the story. Some narratives are meant to be read aloud, and this seems to be one of them, a shade of the orality seeping into the tales, therefore, the urge to read out loud.

A few lines in, the text describes its content beautifully, “Each Illustration is a little story. If you watch them, in a few minutes they tell you a tale. In three hours of looking you could see eighteen or twenty stories acted right on my body, you could hear voices and think thoughts. It’s all here, just waiting for you to look. But most of all, there’s a special spot on my body.” He bared his back. “See? There’s no special design on my right shoulder blade, just a jumble.”

And further on when it is dusk, the narrator and the listener of the stories of the illustrated man encounters the truth behind the pain and fantasy he heard over the table.  “The pictures were moving, each in its turn, each for a brief minute or two. There in the moonlight, with the tiny tinkling thoughts and the distant sea voices, it seemed, each little drama was enacted. Whether it took an hour or three hours for the dramas to finish, it would be hard to say. I only know that I lay fascinated and did not move while the stars wheeled in the sky. Eighteen Illustrations, eighteen tales. I counted them one by one.”

Bradbury’s Illustrated Man is a 1951 collection of 18 short stories linked together with the frame story of the illustrated man. Seen from the perspective of the man, life is horror, the stories are not that pleasing to the ears. In addition, the illustrations have powers to collaborate with the people he is associated with and show them gory details of their past, present and future. Obviously our illustrated man is lonely, he has no friends because people run away from him, as they are afraid of him and find the situation he is in, very strange.

I was watching an episode of Criminal Minds last night. It  was about this unidentified subject who was found dead with tattoos all over his body in an abandoned warehouse. On inspecting the site, Dr Reid, linked the body art to the story of the illustrated man. The story and the 1969 film adaptation was mentioned a few more times in the episode. That was the trigger to get hold of the book, read and share it and write a blog post on it. However, while reading the stories, I realized that I have read some of the 18 stories, elsewhere without knowing their connection to such a powerful introduction piece. The fact that the stories make sense with and without the introduction is something.

Saki’s short story, The Background is yet another tale of a man who had a back covered with Tattoos.. 

Mission accomplished:) the day begins well.

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An Aquarius Woman

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