The Whole Town’s Sleeping (review)

bookshelves: short-storiesnostalgichorrorpsychologicalsuspensefavorites
Recommended to Dustin by: Carrie Chi Lough

Rating: 5/5 stars

The hot blue-glass eyes of the mannequins watched as the ladies drifted down the empty river bottom street, their images shimmering in the windows like blossoms seen under darkly moving waters.

Thankfully, my grandmother was spared the horror and devastation of 9/11, having passed away in her sleep shortly before the terrorist attacks. This review has nothing to do with terrorism, but it has everything to do with the memory of Grandma Faye, and the nostalgic feelings that Bradbury’s fiction often depicted, and which he did so well here.

Grandma loved horror. I remember going over to their house for the day as kids, and she’d usually have a “scary movie,” like Friday the 13th playing, and although I didn’t recognize the inherent corniness of such films at the time, I felt drawn the them nonetheless. In the early 90’s, she expressed excitement for Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, which my mom had surprisingly taped for us kids to watch. Keep in mind, I was in junior high at the time, and my sister was three years younger. I liked it at the time, but she loved it, she couldn’t get enough of it. That is, however, irrelevant to this review. The point is, I’m almost positive that I got my love of horror from Grandma.

As I was reading The Whole Town’s Sleeping, I found my memories drifting back to her. Particularly at the mention of the 1920’s cultural norms, and inexpensive outings to theatres, candy shops and drug stores, even soda shops. The latter hit me hardest because in the 80’s, Grandma and Grandpa owned a soda shop, which was quite the social hang-out, back in the day, in my home town. Those memories made me smile, in a bitter-sweet kind of way, despite the short tale’s dark subject matter.

I have no idea if she ever read it or not, but I know she would have enjoyed it, probably as much as I have.

I miss you, Grandma.

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