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From the recipient of the National Book Foundation's 2000 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters comes the long-anticipated new novel of his beloved Elliott Family.

Fifty-five years in the making, FROM THE DUST RETURNED grew out of a short story, "Homecoming," which appeared in the October 1946 issue of Mademoiselle magazine. Bradbury has published just five other stories about the Elliots, an outlandish, greathearted and loving-spirited Halloween creature clan and their "abnormal" (i.e., his face is reflected in the mirror!) adopted son Timothy. Over the years, Bradbury readers have clamored for more Elliott tales. A lifelong labor of love, FROM THE DUST RETURNED is a novel (in much the way THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES is a novel) comprised of the previously published six stories interwoven with newer chapters and "connective tissue" that give us an unforgettable portrait of the rise and fall of a most peculiar brood. Here are Cecy, "the one who dreams," a young girl yearning for love who can experience the world only through the travels of her mind; Uncle Einar, a fun-loving, proud-winged vampire who loses his ability to fly; Great Grandmère, the family matriarch, who speaks of millennia gone by from deep within her mummified wrappings; and Tom, a farm boy whom Cecy "meets" and falls in love with one night during one of her spirit-borne journeys. Touching, wistful, and graced with the trademark Bradbury wit, FROM THE DUST RETURNED is a testament to the powerful vision and imagination of one of America's great literary lions, Ray Bradbury.

Chapter One

The Town and the Place

At first, A Thousand Times Great Grandmère said, there was only a place on the long plain of grass and a hill on which was nothing at all but more grass and a tree that was as crooked as a fork of black lightning on which nothing grew until the town came and the House arrived.

We all know how a town can gather need by need until suddenly its heart starts up and circulates the people to their destinations. But how, you ask, does a house arrive?

The fact is that the tree was there and a lumberman passing to the Far West leaned against it, and guessed it to be before Jesus sawed wood and shaved planks in his father's yard or Pontius Pilate washed his palms. The tree, some said, beckoned the House out of tumults of weather and excursions of Time. Once the House was there, with its cellar roots deep in Chinese tombyards, it was of such a magnificence, echoing facades last seen in London, that wagons, intending to cross the river, hesitated with their families gazing up and decided if this empty place was good enough for a papal palace, a royal monument, or a queen's abode, there hardly seemed a reason to leave. So the wagons stopped, the horses were watered, and when the families looked, they found their shoes as well as their souls had sprouted roots. So stunned were they by the House up there by the lightning-shaped tree, that they feared if they left the House would follow in their dreams and spoil all the waiting places ahead.

So the House arrived first and its arrival was the stuff of further legends, myths, or drunken nonsense.

It seems there was a wind that rose over the plains bringing with it a gentle rain that turned into a storm that funneled a hurricane of great strength. Between midnight and dawn, this portmanteau-storm lifted any moveable object between the fort towns of Indiana and Ohio, stripped the forests in upper Illinois, and arrived over the as-yet-unborn site, settled, and with the level hand of an unseen god deposited, shakeboard by shakeboard and shingle by shingle, an arousal of timber that shaped itself long before sunrise as something dreamed of by Rameses but finished by Napoleon fled from dreaming Egypt.

There were enough beams within to roof St. Peter's and enough windows to sun-blind a bird migration. There was a porch skirted all around with enough space to rock a celebration of relatives and boarders. Inside the windows loomed a cluster, a hive, a maze of rooms, sufficient to a roster, a squad, a battalion of as yet unborn legions, but haunted by the promise of their coming.

The House, then, was finished and capped before the stars dissolved into light and it stood alone on its promontory for many years, somehow failing to summon its future children. There must be a mouse in every warren, a cricket on every hearth, smoke in the multitudinous chimneys, and creatures, almost human, icing every bed. Then: mad dogs in yards, live gargoyles on roofs. All waited for some immense thunderclap of the long departed storm to shout: Begin!

And, finally, many long years later, it did.

"[A] touchstone, codex and sampler of the pure Bradbury voice…Thank the shades of Twain and Melville and the living presence of Pynchon - all of whom cherish Bradbury, wherever they may be-that this Poet Laureate of the Chimerical and Phantasmagoric is still with us, still writing, still freshening our ration of dream dust."
—LA Times "Best Books of 2001" Book Review

"Ray Bradbury is Edgar Allan Poe for optimists. . . .[M]ixed in with the boisterous adventures of a family that’s spirited in more ways than one are wistful meditations on the fragile preciousness of life. For Bradbury, the most bewitching force in the universe is human nature. . . . The joy of FROM THE DUST RETURNED is the way in which the author’s boyish enthusiasm for goblins and spirits intersects with his adult conviction that the fantastic is unmatched by the tangible. . . .’Make haste to live’ is the Elliotts’ motto, and it’s an invitation so moving and earnest that the reader can’t help wanting to take them up on it."
—New York Times Book Review

"From the Dust Returned is as much poetry as fiction. Images bound, lyrical, heartbreaking. . .. From the Dust Returned exudes transcendence."
—The Baltimore Sun

"After nearly six decades of professional publication, Ray Bradbury could lie back and relax, not worrying about whether approbation was forthcoming from the critics and fans…Yet instead of resting on his laurels, Bradbury is riding his third wind into a creative vortex…Filled with poetic imagery, paeans to yesterday and lost faith, and plenty of magic storytelling, FROM THE DUST RETURNED is ample proof that 81-year-old Bradbury hasn’t lost the passion and fire of his youth. Like the members of his [Elliot] Family, Bradbury’s talents are immortal."
—Denver Post

"He has fashioned …a novel, funny, beautiful, sad and wise, to rank with his finest work. Full of wide-eyed wonder and dazzling imagery, the stories retain as an integrated whole their original freshness and charm…This book will shame the cynics and delight the true believers who never lost faith in their beloved author."
—Publishers Weekly Starred Review

"Written in trademark Bradbury style, the book reads like liquid poetry while telling the interconnected stories of a number of unusual-yet strangely familiar-family members....A new novel by Bradbury is an event worth noting, and this is a necessary purchase for all public libraries."
—Library Journal Starred Review

"At last-a book you can judge by its cover…One of his most attractive and satisfying works in quite some time."
—Kirkus Reviews

"Bradbury weaves his magic... Some parts are vintage Bardbury, reminiscent of his classic Dandelion Wine."
—ALA Booklist