I’ve been in the process of moving and while I have had time to read, it’s been difficult to find time to post. So May’s Bradbury of the Month edition might be on the short side.
Bradbury’s short story “The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl” begins as well as any horror story with William Acton having just murdered Donald Huxley in Huxley’s home. Bradbury’s descriptions for the first page or two easily rival Stephen King in the arena of the macabre. Then, the story spirals into comedy as Acton’s paranoia takes over with his obsession to erase all traces of his fingerprints.
Unable to remember where he had been in the house, Acton recalls small scenes prior to the murder in which he thinks of places and things he might have touched. Ultimately, the tiniest of details causes him fear and trembling right down to the story’s punchline.
In some ways, the journey from macabre to funny seems jarring; however, Bradbury handles it better than many writers could. His continuous use of the whorling images of fingerprints reinforces Acton’s downward spiraling mental capacities along with a simple touch (so to speak) of humanity.