Ray Bradbury: Yes, We’ll Gather At The River

5♠  5♠  5♠  5♠  5♠  5♠  5♠  5♠

I selected the Five of Spades for Week 44 of my Deal Me In Short Story Project for 2014.  I’ve been anxiously awaiting more Ray Bradbury stories and I finally got one: “Yes, We’ll Gather At The River”.

The life of a small town, the death of a small town, life after the death of a small town – all of these combine to make a pleasant, but slightly melancholy, story that addresses both the sadness that can come with the effects of industry and technology and the perseverance of the human spirit in the face of a changing world.

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Charles Moore closes his tobacco shop and walks down the street of his small town – past the barber shop, the taxidermy shop, the garage, the church.  He joins a friend who mentions an old church hymn, Yes, We’ll Gather At The River.  Their small town is coming to an end due to the ever expanding Los Angeles highway system.  The hymn reflects the theme of life after death.  Most of the people of the town know that their lives will not end when the town ends.  But a part of them will die.

As Charlie sits with his wife during their last evening as a town, he smokes his pipe.  It’s easy to smell the tobacco, a scent I love even if I’ve never smoked it.  Bradbury puts significant depth into this one act:

He lit his pipe and blew great clouds of smoke in which to poke for past mistakes and present revelations.

The story ends with one of the more moving images I’ve read in a while.  It’s not a surprise ending.  It’s not a plot twist.  But I believe it’s a scene a reader needs to experience for themselves.  I highly recommend this short story – and it is short, easy to read in one sitting.

My Deal Me In 2014 list can be seen here.  DMI is sponsored by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.

 

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7 responses to “Ray Bradbury: Yes, We’ll Gather At The River

  1. I’ve fallen more and more under Bradbury’s spell the past couple years. Just Tuesday of this week, I went to a book event at Irvington branch of the library held to promote the release of “Bradbury Unbound” – volume two inIUPUi professor Jon Eller’s biography of RB. I have a blog post half-written on that event, which was awesome! So much fascinating inside info on RB.

    I haven’t read this story yet myself (and when are you going to draw the Lazarus story?! The DMI Gods are teasing us!) but will put it on my list. I’ve been very pleased to see him come up so many times in this year’s DMI postings.

    • Yes, Bradbury seems to be one of the authors that so many of us DMI’ers have in common. Interesting! You won’t have to wait much longer for Lazarus. I selected it for next week and have already read it. The title alludes to a poem mentioned in the story that mentions Lazarus. It’s a very good story. I’ll be posting about it soon.

      • Btw, this is a great DMI post (I re-read it this morning), having all the elements I strive for but rarely achieve: succinct, telling about the story without “giving it away,” summing up the mood, a great quotation, and it leaves me wanting to read the story myself. Good job. 🙂

      • Thanks, Jay! This year in general, and especially the last few months, it seems like I don’t have as much time to post. I’ve found it challenging (in a good way) to try to be succinct. And also, I appreciate the “template” you have for DMI posts. I’m going to keep this in mind from now on!

    • I didn’t know that he never learned to drive. It doesn’t really surprise me based on what I do know about Bradbury. The more I read his stories, the more I like them.

  2. Pingback: Deal Me In – Week 44 Wrap Up | Bibliophilopolis

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