Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Death is a Lonely Business; Reading Bradbury's Criminal Novel is a Boring Business

If I hadn't seen the author's name on Death is a Lonely Business's front cover, I would have never guessed it was Ray Bradbury. That Ray Bradbury, who wrote the denunciative critique Fahrenheit 451. The same Bradbury, who shared his childhood memories in the amazingly nostalgic Dandelion Wine. No, this genius of 20th century literature cannot possibly write such a mediocre collection of words. I wouldn't call it a novel; it doesn't deserve this praise.

Death is a Lonely Business is a criminal thing. However, those of you raised with Chandler, Christie, Doyle, etc do not be misguided that you might enjoy this. You won't. The plot is set in Venice, California, a small town near Los Angeles and Hollywood.A mysterious murderer kills innocent people without leaving any trace behind. Our character (also an author but unfortunately quite a bad one) together with a provincial detective (who also attempts to be a writer) try to solve the murder. At the end our "brave", "clever", and extremely boring protagonist manages to do this by himself through shallow conclusions. Really,even I could have come up with a better plot and I am not really into detective stories.

The author mentions in an interview that he grew up i Venice, California and a lot of the images in the novel were actually memories from his childhood there. In addition, most of the characters were inspired by real people, whom Bradbury met at some point of his life. Again, we can feel a slight nostalgia (very slight) as in Dandelion Wine. Also, critiques claim that the protagonist is Bradbury before he got married. I sincerely hope that one of my most favorite authors was not such a person. This is by far the worst thing (again not a novel) that I have read in a long time.

First of all, the plot - shallow, predictable, unrealistic, and boring. The protagonist - scared, oversensitive, constantly crying or complaining about something unaccomplished autor.He quite resembles Hamlet, to be honest. I would never believe that such a person will have the guts to go after a murderer, let alone solve the crime. Yet, by the powerful means of Bradbury's imagination, he does. OK, Bradbury claims that he didn't want to focus on the plot line but on the feelings created in his personages. The author aimed to deflect the attention from the crime and into the experiences and the anguish of the main characters. Than why did he write a criminal thing? Why didn't he just write a novel about feelings, nature, signs, whatever he wanted to show and just guide the reader through his intimation and even make him/her feel as if he/she was actually there, looking through the narrator's eyes, feeling the shivers through his body or the pain in his soul. No, he had to burden us with this ridiculous crime, which at the end becomes even more ridiculous when the murderer and his motives are revealed.

Throughout this collection of words, Bradbury attempted to be original. Either that or he was just high or drink. His comparisons and descriptions makes me wonder whether I am at a crime scene or in the zoo. Really. To compare waves to elephants is just too much. To say that the elephants were roaring and to expect me to deduct that the waves were crashing on the shore is as insane as to tell me the sun is rising and to want me to imagine the moon. I mean, metaphors are good; they make the text richer, more sensual, more influential, more touching. However, they only do that when they are clever and to the point. As if trying to sound smart Bradbury opened the metaphor synonyms dictionary (something like the Word synonyms dictionary) and changed everything. Attempting to look original, the only thing he does is sound weird and stupid.

As I soon as I finish writing this review I will do my best to forget I ever read this and mainly the fact that this was written by Ray Bradbury, an author whom I greatly admire.


  1. This review made me said. I love this Novel as much as all other Bradbury's stuff... It seems that the only thing you didn't get is the spacetime. Did you feel the fogs of Venice, did you feel the desperation of the destroyed bay, of the dying Cinema and all their inhabitants? This Novel is not that much about the crime as much more about the men, the lonely men.

  2. I also love Bradbury and all of his other novels I have read. Still this one was too gloomy, too far away, too abstract for my taste. I realize it was not about the crime but still the whole mood and idea didn't work for me. It didn't make me feel sorry for these lonely men.