All Summer In a Day (or, Jumping On a Bandwagon) (or, Blame Jason for This One)

Jason and I went to college with Amanda Hard (waves at Amanda), and she blogged about a Ray Bradbury story (“The Next In Line”) as part of her ongoing series of reviews of scary short stories for National Short Story Month,[1] then Jason blogged about “The Whole Town’s Sleeping,” and I wanna be a part of the ‘cool kids blog about Ray Bradbury’ club, too! that got me thinking about my favorite Ray Bradbury story, which is “All Summer In a Day.”[2]

It’s not scary.

Well, no it’s totally scary.

So, on Venus, it rains.  All the time.  Once every seven years, the sun comes out for a day–not even the whole day, just two hours of it.  The story centers on a class of nine-year-olds, none of whom remember when the sun came out last … except for Margot, who lived on Earth until she was four, who remembers the sun, and who “looked as if she had been lost in the rain for years and the rain had washed out the blue from her eyes and the red from her mouth and the yellow from her hair.”

The kids resent her, and they lock her in a closet.  As soon as the sun comes out, they forget her until it starts raining again.

Yeah, see?

The rain noise is constant in the story; you can hear it until it stops.  You can hear the children in the story, too–their voices are Ray Bradbury’s signature kids, the ones who sound a little too 50s, but also sound just like kids.

It is, without a doubt, one of the most emotionally devastating things I’ve ever read.

(I can’t hear R.E.M.’s “The Wrong Child” without thinking of this story, either.  Just saying.)


1 [back]How did I not know May was National Short Story Month? As a short story writer, I am aghast at myself.

2 [back]So I saw a short film version of this when I was in elementary school–and I can’t remember if I saw it at school (because my school did that) or if I saw it on HBO in between longer movies?  Okay, you know what, all I know is that I saw a film version of this, Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” and “The Children’s Story” by James Clavell during my elementary school years, whether via cable TV or the school system, and that really does explain a hell of a lot about me, now I think of it.

Not a footnote, but “The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury,” by Neil Gaiman, is well worth a listen, and might have made me cry in the parking lot of an A.C. Moore. 

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