Bradbury Daily: “The Crowd”

Happy Valentine’s Day, I suppose. Though if you’re reading this today, you probably don’t have any special plans, so maybe it’s not that happy. I don’t know. Anyway:

I wasn’t sure where this story was going until about halfway through, and then it clicked.

Bradbury writes a lot about mortality. I suppose that’s not a surprise, though. Most authors do. Most of my stories have had to do with death. Pretty much every horror story does. It’s the most primal fear, the fear of nonexistence. Stephen King posits that it’s tied into the other basic fear, that of impotence. Everything comes down to death and sex, in the end.

Well, and taxes, but that’s another kind of fear entirely.

But at any rate, impotence doesn’t have to mean sexual impotence. It could mean an inability to complete a task or to live the rest of your life — both of which are caused by death.

Of course, technically death makes you sexually impotent as well, but that’s not really a discussion I’m willing to have. This isn’t a blog about necrophilia.

Back to the story at hand, though. It works, well enough. But as I said, it’s pretty predictable, which kind of dampens the effect. Oh, sure, I won’t be looking at rubbernecking crowds the same way any time soon. But in terms of storytelling, this one was a bit weak. The writing, the writing is stellar. Vividly envisioned, as always. Bradbury is a master in the art of description. But the plot was too obvious, too quickly given away. The build was too fast and the issue at hand focused on with such laser-precision that there’s almost no way to mistake what’s going to happen.

Worth the read? Sure; it seems all of Bradbury’s stories are. But this one fell a little bit flat, for me.


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