Monday, June 18, 2012

RIP Ray Bradbury

I started writing this last week. It just never got posted.

I think I was 12 or 13 when I first read The Martian Chronicles. I remember asking my dad for something to read and since I'd already worked my way through Dune and Ringworld, he must have thought he'd suggest another of his writing heros. I do remember that it was summer and that I stayed inside curled up on the couch reading the book. I was entranced. I'm sure I knew the world colonization but it was the emotions that made me unable to put the book down. The wonderful mix of loneliness, uncertainty, fear, joy, and discovery was what made each story sing. I read the book in two days. And since then I've always loved Bradbury.

On my shelves upstairs I have The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Dandelion Wine, Forever Summer, Fahrenheit 451, I Sing the Body Electric, and One More For the Road. He is the author that I've owned the most books by. He's the author that never once disappointed me. Even his odd mysteries in the last couple years have a charm for me. So although I knew he was older (91 when he died), I don't think I ever really expected him to die. Or at least I hoped that I would get to shake his hand once before he did. Now that won't happen. I was a bit upset when Maurice Sendak died earlier this month. But I cried when I found out Ray Bradbury was dead. It seemed impossible.

Since his death I've been reading obituaries and tributes to him. I've read a lot of people gushing about him, and only a bit of it was about his writing. Ray Bradbury was a man who wrote every day of his adult life but who still took the time to answer much of his fan mail with a real letter written out on his typewriter. I've seen wonderful examples of letters he sent to his fans filled with anecdotes, advice, and encouragement. I've read people talk about how amazing a friend he was. And I read the sheer human emotion that he wrote with. I have a section of quotes in my quote book dedicated to him. He's said so many wonderful things. He is a huge fan of libraries and stories. And he's been an idol of mine since that summer over two decades ago when I finally realized how good writing could be. I'm sad that he's no longer with us. But I hope that his legacy (both as a writer and a person) lives on.

Stuff your eyes with as if you'd drop dead in ten seconds. 
See the world. It's more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories. 
--Ray Bradbury

We are all cups, constantly and quietly being filled.
The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.

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