Posts Tagged ‘Ray Bradbury’

Came the Dreamweaver

August 3, 2012

OK, I admit it. I’m overdoing the Ray Bradbury bit, but his wonderful stories were part of what drew me into writing in the first place. My wife even thinks some of my stories sound decidely Bradbury-esque.

I think she’s goofy, but I’m secretly pleased at the comparison.

When I realized he had passed, I looked at the body of work he had created (most of which I own) and realized there was one I had not seen. So I bought it, and I just finished reading “Farewell Summer” – the 2006 sequel to his 1957 classic “Dandelion Wine.”

Perhaps it was just me, but I was disappointed.

It seemed like something left out of the original … which it undoubtedly was … and I think the original was stronger without it. Or could it be I was sorry for myself, realizing this writer of dreams was gone?

Bradbury’s writing ranged from fantasy to horror and mystery to humor. He scripted John Huston’s film version of Moby Dick and wrote for The Twilight Zone and other television programs. He was involved in many futuristic projects, including the 1964 New York World’s Fair and Spaceship Earth at Walt Disney World in Florida.

His book, The Martian Chronicles, was a series of intertwined short stories that satirized capitalism, racism and superpower tensions … a Cold War morality tale in which imagined lives on other planets serve as commentary to human behavior on Earth.

Fahrenheit 451, an apocalyptic narrative, prophesized the banning of books and it became a futuristic classic often taught alongside George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.

He received a special Pulitzer Prize in 2007 “for his distinguished, prolific and deeply influential career as an unmatched author of science fiction and fantasy.”

Other honors included an Academy Award nomination for an animated film, and an Emmy for his teleplay of The Halloween Tree. Bradbury became the rare science fiction/fantasy writer treated seriously by the literary world.

His fame even extended to the moon, where Apollo astronauts named a crater “Dandelion Crater,” in honor of Dandelion Wine, his beloved coming-of-age novel.

Bradbury could be blunt and gruff, once exhorting listeners: “Do what you love and love what you do. If someone tells you to do something for money, tell them to go to hell.”

But he was also a gregarious and friendly man, approachable in public and generous with his time to readers and fellow writers.

His advice to writers – write!

Thanks, Ray. I think I will.

Dandelion Wine Redux

July 31, 2012

In the almost two months since Ray Bradbury died, a host of tributes have appeared, touching on almost every salient aspect of his long life and his exceptionally many-sided work.

I’ve read most of them and just came across another one online, written July 13, by John Wilson, editor-at-large for a magazine I might never have seen, if not looking for articles about Ray … Christianity Today.

I thought I would share the comments with you.

In his article, Wilson cites a June 7 Chicago Tribune feature celebrating Bradbury written by Julia Keller, which covered familiar territory, citing his many books and awards, his screenplays, etc.

Yet most of the top half of page three (I’m going to look for the issue, to see for myself) was given to a gossipy feature by Mark Jacob, headlined: “BRADBURY RODE WITH SLOW COMPANY.”

A large photo showed Bradbury on his bike, and the caption read: “Ray Bradbury didn’t drive a car, but he was often out and about in Los Angeles, browsing bookstores, his bicycle propped outside.”

A sidebar noted that while Ray Bradbury “had some amazing accomplishments … one nonaccomplishment is also noteworthy: He never got a driver’s license.”

Theories Anyone?
There were several theories proposed to explain this quirk in his personality. One even said Bradbury’s “abiding fear of automobiles” was probably attributable to the multiple-fatality accident he had witnessed shortly after moving to Los Angeles in 1934, at age 13.

The theory said, for Bradbury, “it remained a recurring nightmare.”

But I don’t buy it. Throughout his long and prolific career, Ray Bradbury, a master of the short story, also wrote novels and poetry, radio dramas and screenplays. He even served as a consultant to NASA. He was often seen in limos. If you were to ask me why Ray Bradbury, the long-time futurist and visionary didn’t drive, my answer would be simple.

Because he was Ray Bradbury.

AP Photo/Steve Castillo

Vintage Dandelion Wine

July 23, 2012

One of my favorite authors died last month. Ray Bradbury passed away on June 5, 2012, at the age of ninety-one.

His obituary was carried in most major papers. The New York Times said Bradbury was “the writer most responsible for bringing modern science fiction into the literary mainstream.”

The Los Angeles Times credited Bradbury with the ability “to write lyrically and evocatively of lands an imagination away, worlds he anchored in the here-and-now with a sense of visual clarity and small-town familiarity.”

The Washington Post mentioned several modern-day technologies that Bradbury had envisioned in his writing, such as the idea of banking ATMs and Bluetooth headsets from Fahrenheit 451, and the concepts of artificial intelligence within I Sing the Body Electric.

In reading about his life, I knew Bradbury, an avid reader, was a strong supporter of public libraries. In fact, he once told The Paris Review, “I don’t believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries.” Like so many others during the Depression, Bradbury had no money for such an extravagance. “I couldn’t go to college,” he said, “so I went to the library three days a week.”

Bradbury also said something else I agree with: “You can’t learn to write in college. It’s a very bad place for writers because the teachers always think they know more than you do … and they don’t.” Writers learn to write by writing.

And, although I’m not sure they play the same role they once did, I believe libraries still serve a purpose, if only for the computer access they can give to those without it; a place for young readers to learn the joys of good storytelling; and the quiet opportunity they provide for reading and study that is so often missing in our hectic and “connected” world.

Unfortunately, Bradbury also exhibited skepticism with regard to modern technology by resisting the conversion of his work into e-books. Fahrenheit 451 is the only one of his works Bradbury conceded to publish in an electronic form, when its copyright came up for renewal in 2011.

So, you won’t find Bradbury’s books as e-books for the Kindle on Amazon, or anywhere else. I strongly disagree with that. I think the current generation of readers need the opportunity to read Bradbury’s books, and without electronic access, many of them never will.

“Dandelion Wine” no longer a part of a young person’s literary life? I think that’s a shame.

%d bloggers like this: