cover image A Graveyard for Lunatics

A Graveyard for Lunatics

Ray Bradbury. Knopf Publishing Group, $24.5 (285pp) ISBN 978-0-394-57877-4

Hollywood, Halloween night, 1954. At a midnight party in a graveyard adjacent to the studio where he works, the sci-fi screenwriter/narrator glimpses the dangling papier-mache corpse (or real body?) of a film magnate presumed killed exactly 20 years earlier. Then a prop man (or his effigy) is hanged, or else is on the run, and another studio hand is murdered. A Beast is loose, attempting to instill panic on the set, perhaps to cover up what really happened two decades ago. Bradbury eventually ties up the loose ends in a loopy funhouse of a novel peopled with a monocled, imperious Austrian-Chinese director; Lenin's ex-makeup man, from the Kremlin; a gaunt, sermonizing actor named Jesus Christ; a feisty ex-movie queen who demands that ``J.C.'' bless her; and other oddballs. Madness, blackmail, murder and mayhem spell tricks and treats as Bradbury toes the fine line between reality and illusion. (July)