In addition to his full-length novels, Ray Bradbury wrote many short stories. “The Golden Apples Of The Sun” is a compilation of 22 stories that were originally published from 1945 to 1957. One story that falls right in the middle of this time is “The Great Wide World Over There”.
Cora is a woman whose life is a monotonous routine. She cooks, cleans, and takes care of her husband Tom. She rarely leaves home. Their nephew Benji comes to visit them for the summer. Cora is in awe of Benji, as he knows how to read and write, unlike herself and Tom. She spends a glorious summer with Benji, listening to him read aloud and watching him write. They send off letters, and start receiving letters in the new mailbox that Tom builds. The story starts off so well, but ends oh so sadly.
I listened to this book on the “Levar Burton Reads” podcast. For many years, Mr. Burton brought children’s books to life by reading them aloud on PBS’s television program “Reading Rainbow”. In June of 2017, he again began reading aloud, this time to an adult audience through his podcast. There was some musical accompaniment in the background that enriched the experience, but honestly, Mr. Burton is such a fine narrator that he didn’t really need anything extra.
“The Great Wild World Over There” is the story of ordinary people like Cora, who are given the opportunity to explore more of their world, but somehow manage to miss the boat.