Short story is definitely not my preferred format when reading, except when it comes to Ray Bradbury. The Martian Chronicles is one of my all-time favourite books, ever, and I was happy to discover that The Illustrated Man gives out some very similar vibes.
I didn't even know I was going to read this book this month until I discovered it for a ridiculous price from a bookshop, brought home, figured "I'll take a little peek" ... and then it was over. Only then did I realise that it is a good RIP VIII read and also, what do you say, I had even added it to my Classics Club list and completely forgotten. So that's pretty much a double or triple win.
The whole concept of this story book is quite spooky - the stories are tattooed on the illustrated man's skin and they come to life at night. They are all considerably short, which makes it a good book to read before bed (no need to wait for those endless new chapter pages).
Let me just say that I love how Ray Bradbury writes. In addition to such beautiful and at the same time simple prose (at least in this book - it is different when you read Something Wicked This Way Comes), he has such sympathetic attitude towards his characters. I have often imagined him as this gentle father figure, for whom characters are like children - yes, they can be loud, throw tantrums and spill the food, but they are still to be loved and understood.
Other than that, I appreciate the kind of subtle fantastic setting. It can oftentimes be just one detail, only one thing that is a bit different than your and my real life, but it has such impact (for example, many of the stories take place on a different planet - usually Mars but in this book also Venus; in one of the stories there is a house that is "alive"; a little bit of time travel). Whatever the setting or time, the stories tackle deeply humane and moral issues and relationships between people, from racism to bullying to parenthood.
My favourite stories:
* The Veld (house that is alive);
* The Long Rain (set on Venus; *very* psychologically disturbing);
* Usher II (giving E.A. Poe some love - intelligent piece of fantasy-horror);
* The Last Night of the World (very short - "What would you do if you knew that this was the last night of the world?" - how wonderful is that opening sentence?);
* The Fox and the Forest (time travel story of people who escape to the past);
- I could actually go on and on, most stories I liked very much.
I don't usually like to recommend stuff to read, but in this case I am making an exception, because Bradbury's works are so accessible and yet intriguing, flirting with the philosophical side of life while being everything but boring and dull - yes, I would recommend his stories and novels wholeheartedly.