‘The Cat’s Pajamas’ by Ray Bradbury-Book Review
As many fans of fantasy and science fiction literature know, the late Ray Bradbury was an absolute treasure trove of stories. In a career that spanned decades, the legendary writer expanded our imaginations and took to us to places we never thought we would go. Sure he penned a number of novels which left a massive footprint on the genre, but for many fans his short stories are wat they remember most from his works. The Cat’s Pajamas is a collection of these short stories from a career which spanned seventy years.
Readers may be thrown off because many of these tales lack the traditional hallmarks of Bradbury’s storytelling lacking; spaceships, robots, monsters, other worlds, or ghosts. Despite this, the imaginative style in which this master of the literary world wrote is still the same, as he finds wonder in the most ordinary of things. A prime example of this can be found in, The House, where a struggling young couple reignite their relationship while fixing up an old mansion. In a moment of this tale Bradbury pauses the narrative to have one of the characters notice an echo in the old house and refer to it excitedly as a “Listener”. Many short stories in this collection also serve to further the author’s social and political beliefs. The hilarious Hail to the Chief, tells how a few drunken politicians gamble away the ownership of the United States to the Indian chief Iron Cloud, forcing them to gamble in an attempt to get it back. Both Chrysalis and The Transformation tackle the issue of race relations, which the legendary author often wrote about. Many of the stories in this collection showcase a more romantic side of the writer as he covers many different stages of relationships throughout the book. The short the book gets its name from, the Cat’s Pajamas is a fun story of a couple falling in love; the previously mentioned the House is about a couple building their marriage, and Where’s My Hat, What’s my Hurry deals with the tragic end of a marriage.
As mentioned earlier, a surprising number of these stories downplay the more imaginative elements Bradbury fans might be expecting, but fear not they are not gone entirely. In fact the author’s trademark use of whimsical fantasy and gothic horror are ever present in this collection even if they are more subtle. The appropriately titled the Ghosts follows three young sisters wanting to once again witness the spirits who floated around the meadow outside their home. In the Mafioso Cement Mixing Machine, we see a time traveler with his grey cement mixer determined to change the literary world. Throughout all of these short stories, there is one that is bound to stand out I Get the Blues When it Rains (A Remembrance), a beautiful and personal recollection of one of Ray Bradbury’s fondest memories. He is upfront stating that this particular story is for older readers, because younger readers have yet to have the life experiences to truly appreciate what he is writing about. On a particularly rainy night in the Hollywood Hills, Bradbury and a handful of his colleagues gathered in the home of Dolph Sharp. Together they engaged in a night of; reading, drinking, singing, and merrymaking; a celebration of life as it were. As this story comes to an end, Bradbury is almost mournful as this is one of the greatest moments of his life which will never be repeated.
The Cat’s Pajamas is a showcase of a more grounded storytelling for Ray Bradbury, but by no stretch of the imagination is it inferior. Everything readers have come to love about this legendary master of science fiction is still present within these pages. The author’s imagination, whimsy and wonder are on full display. Because at the end of the day there are countless writers telling genre tales, but Bradbury possessed certain qualities which set him apart from everybody else in his field, and these qualities are ever present no matter what he wrote.