It is time once again for another entry in my year-long experiment in living (actually reading) fiction. In the interest of keeping these intros short, I’ll recap that my literary travails this year have encompassed everything from mystery to science fiction, and I have pulled major lessons about writing from each work. The last novel of this first round was no exception: Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, one of the best-known examples of dystopian science fiction, which is becoming one of my favorite genres. I know I said similar things about Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, but once again I was completely blown away by this work and consider it possibly the finest piece of fiction I’ve read in my short life. Bradbury’s use of language to describe this futuristic, ignorant world is fraught with incredible prescience. Each sentence is crafted tautly and conveys miles beyond just what the words say. Overall I would say this encompasses the two major lessons I learned from the reading of this masterpiece:
There are plenty of other lessons to draw upon from this novel, but I’m guessing many of you have read this one and seen your own parallels to our world. If not, I can’t recommend this book highly enough as it has affected me tremendously, and in ways I’m still figuring out. Plus it is a great example of how to pack the sentences of a fairly short book with meaning - each one entails much more than the sum of its words, making this a book worth paying deep attention to each time you read it.
Well, that’s it for the first round of fiction in this experiment. Up next is a book on writing itself: Francine Prose’s Reading Like a Writer. I’ll write an essay on that and also present the list of books that will encompass the second half of my year. Stay tuned for more updates on my year of living (actually reading) fictionally!
John Abraham is a published author and freelance journalist who lives in the Twin Cities with his wife Mary and their cat. He is writing a speculative dystopian novel and is seeking representation and a publisher.