Review

One More for the Road: A New Short Story Collection

by Ray Bradbury



I don't quite remember which of Ray Bradbury's works I read first.
I think it was FAHRENHEIT 451. My mother, rest her soul,
unrelentingly indulged her weird 12-year-old son and for Christmas
one year mail-ordered several books from the gone but not forgotten
F & SF Book Company in New York City. The first book I pulled
out of the carton was the aforementioned Bradbury; I think I read
THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES after that, then THE ILLUSTRATED MAN, then
SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES, and all the rest of them. I caught
up with his back catalogue and eagerly waited for more. It's a
constant that hasn't changed over the past 40 years.

The world caught up with Bradbury; he received the well-deserved,
if overdue, National Book Award for making a "Distinguished
Contribution to American Letters;" he's had satellites and craters
named in his honor; his work, at one point, was studied in high
schools and universities. Then the world, in the words of Stephen
King's Roland, "moved ahead." Bradbury, however, is still with
us.

ONE MORE FOR THE ROAD is a collection of 15 short stories by
Bradbury, 8 of which are previously uncollected, with the remainder
being previously unpublished. The designation of "short" is not
accidental; the longest story here, "The Dragon Danced At
Midnight," is but 18 pages long. The published stories range from
1948 to but a few months ago. The range of time demonstrates and
demarks a shift in Bradbury's  storytelling focus away from
large social issues and toward the more personal.

Much of Bradbury's earlier work utilized fantasy and science
fiction as a metaphoric device for commentary on social issues such
as civil rights and undue media influence. Some of it, such as
FAHRENHEIT 451, has proved to be eerily and unerringly prophetical,
and while some of his scientific prophecies missed the mark, the
message contained within did not. Bradbury's later work
occasionally still touched on such weighty issues --- witness "The
Laurel and Hardy Alpha Centuri Farewell Tour," wherein humanity,
having conquered space, encounters an inexplicable yearning for
earth, which is sated by a tour of a long-dead and miraculously
resurrected comedic duo. Most of ONE MORE FOR THE ROAD, however,
deals with more personal issues, those of how we relate to one
another, one-on-one. Of these, Bradbury frequently resorts to
dialogue, almost entirely so. In so doing, he demonstrates,
irrefutably, that in his ninth decade on this side of the veil he
continues to be master of all that comes under his touch. While all
of his stories, each in its own way, are standouts, there are two
that are first among equals. Both, not by coincidence, deal with
the basic relationships between man and woman, husband and
wife.

"Tete-a-Tete" is a short tale of love, loss, and sharing. It is a
simple story of the human condition, of that which we so often
cannot understand when we encounter it but which is nonetheless so,
of the elements that make up that which we call love. In "Well,
What Do You Have To Say For Yourself?" Bradbury explores, on a very
simple, very elemental level, the complexities of the male psyche
in a way that has, to my knowledge, never been done. Go to any
newsstand, the magazines aimed at women are about, for the most
part, women. The magazines aimed at men are, to a great extent,
about...women. Bradbury's story is about men, and about how --- if
not necessarily why --- they behave badly on occasion, and of how
the difference between the good ones and the bad ones is marked by
the regret of the good ones. Not a list of excuses, not an
apologia, "Well, What Do You Have To Say For Yourself" is as good
an explanation for and of men as I have come across in quite some
time. The fact that it is published in ONE MORE FOR THE ROAD for
the first time says much about both the magazine market for short
stories and the quality of this collection.

Bradbury, who has been delighting and inspiring readers and writers
alike for over 60 years, continues to demonstrate in ONE MORE FOR
THE ROAD why, of all of the voices of our time, his has been one of
the most enduring. He remains, with this collection, an author
whose work simply cannot, and must not, be omitted from any reading
list.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 22, 2011

One More for the Road: A New Short Story Collection
by Ray Bradbury

  • Publication Date: January 1, 2003
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Avon
  • ISBN-10: 0061032034
  • ISBN-13: 9780061032035