At first, I thought it was going to be a difficult read. Bradbury’s style employs a lot of metaphors and it felt like he was trying to hard to be poetic. After about 20 pages I changed my tune, and enjoyed it from there on out.
The protagonist, Guy Montag, lives in a world that supresses free speach, creativity or curiosity. Reading books is illegal. Anyone caught with books in their home will have their lives burnt to the ground…and the books along with them. Everyone speeds through life talking at eachother but never having meaningful conversations. People are fed opinions through the ‘fourth wall’, a giant television set present in every living room that customizes ads to literally address you by name, demanding your full attention. People drive so fast and are in such a hurry that billboards are not 20ft long, but 200ft…
Guy Montag, a fireman whose job it is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, meets an eccentric young woman who causes him to question everything he’s ever known. She has a short, yet profound role, that sparks something in Montag and sets him on a very dangerous path.
One of their interactions:
“Do you mind if I ask? How long’ve you worked at being a fireman?”
“Since I was twenty, ten years ago.”
“Do you ever read any of the books you burn?”
He laughed. “That’s against the law!”
“Oh. Of course.”
“It’s fine work. Monday burn Millay, Wednesday Whitman, Friday Faulker, burn em’ to ashes, then burn the ashes. That’s our official slogan.”
What’s interesting is that there are many similarities to the dystopian world Bradbury wrote more than 60 years ago and ours today. In his world, it’s a seashell earpiece…in ours, it’s a walkman or iPhone. In his world, people are captivated by the affectionately named “family” that is simply a soap opera. They don’t have the time or care to think for themselves…
Today, you could argue that life is so fast paced for so many that people don’t have meaningful conversations on a regular basis. People are consumed with their devices, their Facebook, emails…quality time spent wandering, exploring or discussing things is more a rarity than it is commonplace.
While it doesn’t make the list of my favorite books ever, it certainly was a good read and one I’d recommend. I’m glad I can say I’ve read this classic.