current read: Fahrenheit 451

Spurred by the Guardian Book club, I finally got round to reading one of the most famous SF books of my youth. Having worked in science fiction and comic shops for many years, I was suprised to find I had never read it.. And pleased to be stirred to it.

Farneheit 451

Farneheit 451

I found Bradbury’s writing very uneven, and the plot haphazard. There were many clichéd character types, such as the neighbour who stirs up Montag’s  awareness of society’s limitations, Clarisse, who made me think of the ‘beat’ characters favored by post war Californians (like eden ahbez’s Nature Boy).

But, the fusty, forgetful world which we join Montag in being repelled by came with a really strong set of images. That neither he, nor his wife (Millie), can recall how they met was ghastly. And the many scenes in which Millie is engrossed in her tv dramas, three of four walls immersing her, give an awesome foretaste of the big brother phenomena. Montag will ask her what was occurring, and she is breathless about the emotion of the moment, but oh-so vague about who the characters were, and why they were in that exchange…

The later parts of the story as Montag flees the city, and the lengthy expositions about why things are and how they should be, were much more familiar “SF explanatory” – and pretty boring. But I will not forget Millie in her sleepy soaps…

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