Deal Me In, Week 4 ~ “Quicker Than the Eye”

20140105-160356

Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis

“Quicker Than the Eye” by Ray Bradbury

Card picked: Two of Clubs

From: Tales of the Impossible, edited by David Copperfield & Janet Berliner

Review: Ray Bradbury brings me the first story of this challenge to involve stage magic–well, sort of. In this tale, an unnamed narrator watches as a man, who could be his twin, is duped during female pickpocket act.

This is a darker than I’m used to from Bradbury. Sure, sure, there’s the dystopian Fahrenheit 451 and the quiet menace of Something Wicked This Way Comes, but I’m not used to  brittleness from Ray Bradbury. Our narrator is positively livid over the notion of a group of men being made fools of during a magic act, especially since one of those men is his doppelganger.

On one level this is what our reaction to being tricked should be. When a magician, or in this case a stage pickpocket with nimble fingers, takes advantage of us, we should be incensed. Usually, we’re not. When watching a magic act, the audience willingly decides to go along with being lied to. Personally, I’m not a fan of the mentalists and street magicians that do not present themselves with the sort of theatricality that is a nod to their fiction. I’m a bit dense and I dislike being tricked. Despite that, I really do enjoy magic. (I’ve also come to realize that I’d be a terrible magician because I am a terrible liar.)

Our narrator not only takes the pickpocket’s shenanigans personally, but is offended by the audience’s reaction. His fellow spectators are amused by a pretty woman, the same woman who has been sawed in halves and vanished from a box, stealing wallets, watches, neckties, suspenders, shirts, and pants. Bradbury obviously sets up a war-of-the-sexes. The men in the audience have been secretly satisfied to have seen this woman halved and disappeared, but it’s their wives and girlfriends that laugh loudest while the thiefess makes buffoons of the men. It’s these issues that I’m not used to from Ray Bradbury.

About the Author: Karmically, I feel I’m still paying for my re-pick a couple weeks back. Two weeks in a row and I pick two of my favorite authors. Who’s left? Ray Bradbury is probably the most read speculative fiction author of time thus far, highly anthologized and oft taught in schools. With his introduction to the Ray Bradbury Theater TV show, he made me realize that authors weren’t just names on the spines of books; that they are people and maybe I could be one too. Now, if only I could come close to writing as beautifully as he did.

7 thoughts on “Deal Me In, Week 4 ~ “Quicker Than the Eye”

  1. Jay

    Bradbury is one of my favorite storytellers. I only discovered in the past couple years that there is a “Center for Ray Bradbury Studies” (linked in my blogroll) at IUPUI university here in Indianapolis. Its director (also a Bradbury biographer) is a regular attendee of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library’s book club, as i am. He has led me to try several Bradbury stories recently, but this one is not among them. Bradbury wrote a – perhaps surprisingly large – share of “darker” stories too. One of my favorites is “The Pedestrian.”

    There was a “Ray Bradbury Day” at a local library branch here last year. If you’re interested, I wrote about it here: http://bibliophilica.wordpress.com/2013/05/31/the-crowd-by-ray-bradbury/

    -Jay

    Reply
    1. Katherine Nabity Post author

      “Dark” probably isn’t the word I should have used. This story just had a bite to it that I am unused to.

      Oh, but The Pedestrian is a nice piece of work, isn’t it? I wasn’t familiar with it, but I have a thick Bradbury collection that I haven’t worked my way through yet. I love the economy of words; short but with a lot of story.

      Reply
  2. Pingback: Deal Me In 2014: Week 4 Wrap-up | Bibliophilopolis

  3. Dale

    It’s been a while since I’ve read Ray Bradbury (at least a year) so I picked several of his stories for my DMI 2014 list. I’m looking forward to them. I agree that this one sounds a little different from the other ones I’ve read. While I have always liked and appreciated Farhenheit 451, for some reason Dandelion Wine is his novel that has always been my favorite.

    Reply
    1. Katherine Nabity Post author

      Dandelion Wine is my favorite too. I like it for its more subtle fantasy elements. Magical realism, I guess people call it. Or rather, being a kid on a summer night.

      Reply

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