Fahrenheit 451 is one of the world's premier sci fi books and is one of my favorites. Why? I love Bradbury's writing, for starters. He has a style that is both evocatively descriptive and lyrical, yet still readable. (Bradbury has been accused of overusing adjective and noun sentence constructions. I won't argue that, but I still find his style readable and enjoyable.) Guy Montag is not the most mentally swift of heroes, but he has a good heart and it's encouraging to watch his transformation from an unthinking drone to an intellectual rebel. I also love the gripping, compelling plot - this book is a genuine page turner. And since it's a cool 160 pages, I guarantee you'll read it all in one setting. I particularly love the scene where Guy lashes out at Mildred and her idiot friends by demanding that they have an intellectual conversation and illegal poetry reading with him which, as you may guess, ends disastrously. That scene leaves me howling every time. I also like the unique dystopia that Bradbury creates. Rather than fashioning a totalitarian communistic society, like so many other dystopian writers, Bradbury's futuristic world bears a disturbing resemblance to modern-day America, with its rejection of knowledge and culture in favor of superficial pursuits. This book is often championed as a criticism of book censorship and it is. But the real target of Bradbury's anger is obsession with televison and superficiality in general. The people of this society didn't have book censorship and thought control thrusted upon them by force. They accepted it willingly because they were brainwashed with the box, and this makes the book all the more disturbing because of it.
But the main reason I love this book is because this book scares me! The very notion of a society that burns books tears at my very existence. I would be nothing without my books. Reading has been my favorite hobby since I was a toddler. What would I do with my spare time? I wouldn't have a job, because I work in a library. I wouldn't have a blog, because I blog on books. I wouldn't have a future, because my plan is to teach literature and history and write books. I wouldn't get Hanukkah and birthday presents, because that's what I always get. My God! I am Jewish - We're the "People of the Book"! What would we Jews argue with each other about if we didn't have books? Just thinking about this upsets me. (Of course, I got upset when my books were banished to the basement. I can still hear them whimpering like little lost orphans at night. *sheds tear* My poor darlings, there, there, don't cry, Rebecca and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and Garfield 30 Years of Laughs & Lasagna: The Life & Times of a Fat, Furry Legend! *cough* I digress. I do this when I am upset...) And I assume that, since you're reading a blog devoted to books, you also love books. What would you do in a society like the one Bradbury describes?
Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 is an amazing, thought provoking read. The narration is evocative, the plot is suspenseful, and the setting is eerily familiar. Read Fahrenheit 451. If it doesn't scare you, I don't know what will.
Next Week: I am going to try to read Ron Hansen's The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, an excellent historical fiction novel set in the American West. This is one of my favorite historical fiction books. I am rereading it just to blog on it. Yeah, it's that good.