fahrenheit451In a not too distant future, owning books is against the law. Firemen burn property instead of protect it and everyone is dialed in to their televisions, subsisting on a steady stream of sensational media stories and vapid entertainment to numb their quickly congealing brains. The nation is always at war, but you would never guess it from the populace’s empty conversations and emptier dreams. Guy Montag longs for something different, but what exactly, he can’t even say, until he meets a girl who wanders outside for fun and sees faces in the moon. He becomes convinced that what society has labeled as wrong and anti-social is more real than anything he’s experienced in a long time. However, these are dangerous thoughts. And, being a fireman, Guy knows, more than anyone, the price that is demanded of people who dare to think, read, and entertain original thoughts.

Fahrenheit 451 was shocking to me. Ray Bradbury predicted internet/social media addiction long before such things existed. He also called society’s horrifically shortened attention spans. Where once, we would have read through a novel or a long article, now we spend less than thirty seconds absorbing information before scrolling onwards to the next thing, then the next, and the next. (Goodreads friends excepted from the majority, of course.)

I listened to the audiobook version where Tim Robbins performed the narration. It was brilliant. He is a natural fit for this material and I highly recommend it.

The only annoying thing about listening to the audiobook is Bradbury’s use of repetition to build the tension and pound his ideas home. You’ll particularly notice it when the war planes fly overhead or when Guy gets into a big fight with his wife and she won’t turn off the television. It’s headache inducing but Bradbury certainly knows how to make a point.

This is one of those classics that I never got the chance to read in school, but I wish I had. I would have enjoyed this much more than Hard Times, which I managed to yawn my way through. Recommended for those who are disturbed by the shallowness of modern life and long for real connections with the people and world around them. The lessons that Bradbury teaches are still very applicable today and, as I said, shocking in their implications.

Thanks for reading.

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