‘Way in the Middle of the Air,’ by Ray Bradbury (vs. ‘I’ll Fly Away’?)

A few hours after our first discussion of Song of Solomon, I stumbled across an old short story by Ray Bradbury that echoed in a most bizarre way the imagery about “flying away” that we found so prevalent in Morrison’s novel.  Way in the Middle of the Air is one of the most famous (infamous? well, not really…) chapters in Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles and has been discussed endlessly in high school English classes ever since the 1960’s.  Given when it was written (late 1940’s) and its subject matter (a liberal northerner writing about the redneck south), there’s a lot of casual racism and stereotyping (Bradbury was no Faulkner). On the other hand, I can hear different layers of “group fantasy” wrapped around each other in fascinating combinations (white on white, white on black, black on white … not to mention north vs south, elites vs ‘good old boys’ etc.)  So as an exercise in “comparative imaginations,” I find this short science fiction fable interesting and not irrelevant to our discussion of the myths in Song of Solomon.  —  Tom

Ray Bradbury, ‘Way in the Middle of the Air,’ from The Martian Chronicles

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