May 3, 2012
(The 2006 graphic novel adaptation of “The Homecoming.” Art by Dave McKean)
Where to Find It: The October Country; The Stories of Ray Bradbury
First Published: Mademoiselle, October 1946
Plot Synopsis: A foundling human child is raised by a family of lovable monsters. As the extended family gathers at their rococo Northern Illinois mansion for an All Hallows reunion, Timothy, lacking supernatural powers, feels like an outcast.
Critique: Bradbury was in his mid-twenties when he wrote this story, yet he was already taking traditional genre fiction into uncharted territory. Originality of story combined with narratives steeped in humanity, all told in a poetic style, were fast becoming his hallmarks. “The Homecoming” is an allegory for Bradbury’s own childhood, a time when he felt the part of the misfit, the outsider, even while surrounded by a loving and doting extended family. The child as outsider is a theme Bradbury would continue to examine, but never again with such delightfully gothic aplomb.
Anecdote: The story behind the publication of “The Homecoming” is legendary. Bradbury submitted the story to the pulp magazine Weird Tales; it was promptly rejected. The editor wanted a more traditional horror story. Bradbury’s originality was now hindering him in the pages of the pulps. On a whim, he submitted the tale to Mademoiselle, a well-respected slick publication that was open to literary fiction. An office boy discovered the story in the voluminous slush pile and brought it to the attention of fiction editor Rita Smith (sister of author Carson McCullers). Mademoiselle not only published the story, the editors shifted the entire tone and look of the October, 1946 issue to a Halloween theme, with Bradbury’s story at the center. New Yorker artist Charles Addams was hired to paint the accompanying art. And the office boy who first eye-balled the tale in the submission pile? Truman Capote.