Bradbury Daily: “The Night”

So in the wake of finishing the latest Brent Weeks novel, The Broken Eye, and in the interest of not boring you all with more of my endless praise for Weeks and his writing (the book is phenomenal, though, just for the record), I’ve decided to take on what I’m sure will prove to be an impossible task.

But what the hell, since when has that stopped me from trying?

I decided my next reading material would be the collection of Ray Bradbury stories I was passed on many years ago, as my interest in science fiction, fantasy, and horror was just beginning. And now as I’m reading it I’ve decided to take on a review project, of sorts. One review for each story. And each day, you, dear readers, will get to see a brand new review from me. I plan to write them as I finish each story and queue them so that they’ll automatically post each day. I’ll be calling this feature “Bradbury Daily,” and if I have time/inclination, may concurrently write other posts that will be in addition to the daily story review.

So without further ado, we’ll start at the beginning, with “The Night.”

This is an interesting story for me especially, because it’s written in the almost-never-seen second person point of view, in the present tense — that is, instead of using “I/me/we/us” (first person) or “he/she/it/they/them” (third person), it uses “you/your.” Why is this interesting to me, you ask?

Because a number of years ago, I suppose about five or six at this point, before ever reading this tale, or any like it that I could recall, I wrote a story in the second person present, as a sort of experiment. It was fairly well received and was published in the school literary magazine (not to sound like I’m bragging).

It’s not the first time an odd coincidence like this has happened to me. A year before I wrote that story, I wrote a story where it turns out the main character was dead the whole time, observing events from outside his body; even he didn’t know he was dead. Not long after I wrote it, I saw a rerun of a Twilight Zone episode starring Jack Klugman, which had a very similar plot line — though it took place in space. Funny how these sort of things have a tendency to happen to writers, isn’t it?

Anyway, the story itself is quite good. It’s hard to describe without giving anything away, but the main character — you, as it were — is an 8 year old boy, and it follows his night with his mother. The usage of the environment to build the tension is masterful, as are the descriptions of the internal experiences of the character. Bradbury hits all the right notes and already I can tell why he’s considered one of the best writers in his genre(s). There’s some genuine fear here, and a real sense of not knowing what’s going to happen.

It wraps up perfectly.

I guess ultimately my point here is that it puts everything I’ve ever written, especially my foray into second person storytelling, to shame. And this is only the first story in the book.

This is going to be a very, very, long project.

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