Hail and Farewell: Ray Bradbury, 1920-2012

Posted: June 6, 2012 in Miscellaneous
Tags: , , , , ,

I was very depressed today to read of Ray Bradbury’s death at 91. He’s a curious one – by the time he had written everything he’s ever going to be remembered for, he was about 32! He lived almost 60 years past his literary apex. Harper Lee is a bit similar; she wrote To Kill a Mockingbird when she was 34. Today she’s 86. Bradbury kept writing, Lee didn’t.

These numbers are interesting, just as it’s interesting to know that Bradbury’s first success was a short story called “Homecoming” that he sold to Mademoiselle in 1947. It won the O. Henry Prize that year. The young Mademoiselle editor who bought it was Truman Capote.

But Bradbury means more to me, and to millions of people, than literary trivia. My list of all the books I’ve read since 1971 tells me that I haven’t read anything by the man since I reread The Martian Chronicles in 1977. No one who has read my fiction would say I write anything like Ray Bradbury. Still, somehow, he’s in my DNA. R Is for Rocket, S Is for Space, The Golden Apples of the Sun, The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451 – those of us who discovered Bradbury in our youth and immediately loved him will always carry him with us. Somewhere back through all those decades, he wrote something that exploded inside my brain, or maybe my soul. Like the big bang that created the universe, that explosion is still spreading outward. I’m sure I’m not the only person on the planet who thought this today.

Bradbury’s story “Hail and Farewell” is about a boy who never grows up, though he desperately wants to. I wonder if Bradbury thought he was such a boy. Thank you for never growing up, Mr. Bradbury, and for writing so lyrically about it.

  1. Darwin says:

    RE: Ray Bradbury’s passing.

    I would point your readers to his earlier dark work, _Dark Carnival_, _October Country_ and _Something Wicked this Way Comes_(later). For me, _Something Wicked …_ exemplifies what I think you mean above: “something exploded in my brain” and images and feelings evoked from my reading of that still surface in me today.

    Hey, thanks for the pointer to Grey. It sounds like it’s not a movie for my better half, though.


    • Run-DMSteve says:

      I see that years ago I was attracted to Bradbury’s science fiction side, rather than his dark fantasy side as you were. I guess Dandelion Wine would be another one for your list. But we still had the same reaction to his work. How many writers can do that to a kid?

      I set up three of Bradbury’s books on a shelf in my cubicle, but so far either no one’s noticed or they think I’m a nerd and they don’t want to encourage me.

      Fifty Shades of Grey isn’t a movie…yet!

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