The Boardwalk And The Labyrinth

 Ray Bradbury was a natural storyteller.  The path of his plots were as boardwalks that led from one direction to another —sometimes sunny, sometimes rainy, sometimes overborne with a storm from the sea — yet always in a straightforward direction as Bradbury led the reader through his homemade carnivals along the dynamic panorama of the beach.  Bradbury, therefore, is an excellent example of traditional storytelling that takes aim and hits the mark with deft precision, clarity, and economy.  His stories aim for nothing except a good story and fully realized characters, for Bradbury was a writer with a story to tell, and the story was all that mattered to him.

 Contrarily, Gene Wolfe was an engineer who reverse-engineered plot and pretense within his own stories to demonstrate the untrustworthiness of narratives and conceits.  He wrote labyrinths and dropped the reader into them with shrewdness and aplomb, like mice in a maze.  Often the reader is lost in a Wolfe story, even as the reader thinks he knows where the story is going.  Often the reader even misunderstands where he has been, the wanderer lost not only because of the many-cornered plot that Gene Wolfe angles askew from the center, but the presumptions the reader takes into the labyrinth with him as a reader given to credulity and trust of the author.  Gene Wolfe, therefore, was a deft maze-maker of stories, revealing greater truths through his puzzle-constructs which force the reader to question everything that he sees within the unfolding passages.  His stories aim at bewildering the reader, but never cruelly.  There are signposts everywhere, if the reader is observant enough to learn to read them.

 For these reasons, both Bradbury and Wolfe are good storytellers, but they are very different from one another.  Between the twain there is much to be recommended, and much to be learned from, as a writer of fiction.  Whether one writes a boardwalk or a labyrinth, it should always be well-constructed in its passages, and the journey should always be entertaining

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s