Deal Me in Stories #5 and #6: Two Bradbury Tales from The October Country

The October Country by Ray Bradbury

Card Drawn: 3♦

Anthology: The October Country by Ray Bradbury

Story: “The Watchful Poker Chip of H. Matisse,” 1954

Beyond Fantasy Fiction March 1954When we first meet George Garvey he is nothing at all. Later he’ll wear a white poker chip monocle, with a blue eye painted on it by Matisse himself. Later, a golden bird cage might trill within George Garvey’s false leg, and his good left hand might possibly be fashioned of shimmering copper and jade.

But at the beginning–gaze upon a terrifyingly ordinary man.

So begins “The Watchful Poker Chip of H. Matisse” by Ray Bradbury. To what length is an ordinary man willing to go in order to be interesting? That is the question facing George Garvey once he gets a taste of what it feels like to have people talk about him, pay attention to him, and spend time with him. George is a dull man who, through an accident, becomes the center of “the wildest avant-garde literary movement in history!”

It took a bit of extra effort to get into this story, and at first it didn’t really grab me. After spending some more time with it, however, it grew on me. Though it feels a little dated–like an episode of Get Smart–it’s still an effective commentary on popularity and being interesting. George Garvey has a lot in common with people on so called reality TV shows, albeit in a little more gruesome way, in true Bradbury fashion.

“The Watchful Poker Chip of H. Matisse” was originally published in Beyond Fantasy Fiction in March, 1954.

My Rating: ⭑⭑⭑⭑✩

The October Country by Ray Bradbury

Card Drawn: 10♦

Anthology: The October Country by Ray Bradbury

Story: “The Crowd,” 1943

Weird Tales May 1943…there’s a universal law about accidents. Crowds gather. They always gather. And like you and me, people have wondered year after year, why they gathered so quickly, and how? I know the answer. Here it is!

Poor Mr. Spallner. He has the worst luck when it comes to car accidents. Good thing there are always people near by to gather around and help, right? Right? They are helpful, aren’t they?

“The Crowd” is another creepy tale from Bradbury’s prolific imagination. Yet again, Bradbury takes events from ordinary life and puts his particular spin on them to comment on modern life. I liked this story more than “The Watchful Poker Chip of H. Matisse” because it had a more timeless quality and was a bit more eerie.

“The Crowd” was originally published in Weird Tales in May, 1943.

My Rating: ⭑⭑⭑⭑✩

Deacon Nick

Nick Senger is a husband, a father of four, a Roman Catholic deacon and a Catholic school teacher, vice principal and technology coordinator. He taught junior high literature and writing for over 25 years, and has been a Catholic school educator since 1990. In 2001 he was named a Distinguished Teacher of the Year by the National Catholic Education Association.

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