January 29th - 'The Day It Rained Forever'
I just picked up a story before bedtime. It has as fine an opening as any. 'The hotel stood like a hollowed dry bone under the very centre of the desert sky where the sun burned the roof all day.'
Forced to guess the author, I'd have said Paul Bowles. In fact it's Ray Bradbury. I saw him some years ago hobble on to the stage in Los Angeles with a stick that might as well have been a wand, for he waved it and everyone in the audience loved him. I've never known an author stir a crowd so completely. He's a true magician.
The story is 'The Day it Rained Forever.' The hotel's inhabitants are waiting for the day when the rain must come. It happens this day every year. January 29th.
A parcel arrived for me in the office today. I kept it wrapped so as to bring it home in the rain. 'Is it raining then?' I was asked. 'No, but it will, it will.'
Here in Plymouth that's no canny prediction. The rain tonight was drizzle, so quite relaxing. In the story, the sound of thunder is an approaching car, set to release its death rattle in the dust road in front of the hotel. It carries a lady harpist, travelling in search of an appreciative audience.
By story's end 'the fifty years of drought were over.' We were in to the time of the long rains.
Picking up this story on this day, I like to see it as a symbol of this new Obama era. Maybe the man's gentle rhetoric can end a cultural drought. Maybe this gasping planet can find some relief.
Whether that's so or not, it's fun to have discovered a gem of a story from 1959, that managed the magic of talking to me now.
Labels: Ray Bradbury