I did not know Ray Bradbury. But he knew me. He knew me in the quickened response to that first crisp fall day, the smell of October. He knew me in the loving slap of sneakers against pavement and the softer thwap against dirt and the way that noise never stopped. He knew me in the push me-pull me fascination I had with the dark, with the unknown, the grotesque.
He knew exactly how badly I wanted to go to Mars. See a dinosaur. Live forever. Fly.
He knew my love of dim libraries. Of movie theaters gone dark. Of foghorns.
He knew my love of monsters, my fear of monsters, my fear that we were the monsters, my wonder that so often we chose not to be. That sometimes we saved each other from the monsters. And sometime, even better, we saved the monster too.
He knew me in that so bittersweet intersection of past and future, that wonderfully torturous betwixt and between of having one hand stretching upward and outward, reaching forward to see what’s to come, while the other arm is stretched fully backward, that hand unwilling to unwind, unclench, to let go of all that was so sweet (and even not so sweet) behind.
Most of all, he knew my love of stories. And because of that, he knew before I did that I wanted to be a writer. Though I eventually figured it out. I never thanked him for that. But I figure that’s OK. He probably knew.
Would you like to say something about Ray Bradbury? Or is there another author who you want to thank for inspiring you? If so, write a thank you note in the comment section.
One commenter will receive the audiobook version of Ray Bradbury‘s story collection, The Illustrated Man (or you may choose a book from our stacks.)
I only read a couple of his works and they were too dark for me–realistic? Yes. Dark? Yes. What I find most wonderful about him is that he seemed to be such a class act. A hero in his own world–a good husband, hard worker, a man with morals and the fortitude to write about things that mattered whether it was popular literature or not. Of course, I didn’t know him personally, so I could be wrong about all of that, but it warms my heart to think so. He’s the kind of man I could admire.
BTW, this is a VERY nice tribute. I think your line
“I did not know Ray Bradbury. But he knew me.”
is such a huge compliment to a writer!!!
I just want to thank Bill for a beautiful column about a writer whose work was a guiding star for many of us.
I’d like to thank Jack Vance (96 years old) for all of the delight he’s given me. What I love most about him is his sense of humor. I feel like I understand him and that we find the same things amusing. I wish he were still writing today, but fortunately he’s left a large body of work (which I haven’t finished reading, though I own almost all of it) and he’s also left plenty of protégés!
Beautiful Tribute. i would like to thank Mr Bradbury for sharing his worlds with us. I started with “Something Wicked This Way Comes”. It was love at first read, and read him I did. He has left us a great legacy in his stories that we can enjoy over and over again.
Fantastic tribute Bill!
At a young age, Bradbury and Tolkien made me realize that it was ok to keep imagining and dreaming even after you “grow up”. That’s probably why I continue to enjoy the scifi/fantasy genre to this day.
Farenheit 451 is one of the most impactful books I have ever read. It is sad to see the authors I read as a teenager leaving us. But what a legacy to leave behind.
“There Will come Soft Rains” is still my favorite short story of all time. Something about that story effects e every time I read it. I loved Bradbury’s writing a great deal and will miss him greatly. Such a fearless individual when it came to writing what he wanted. There is such a small number of writers who can claim they changed the world with their work, Bradbury was among them. Bill’s tribute said all things I felt so perfectly, thank you Bill.
Maria, if you live in the USA, you win a book of your choice from our stacks. Please contact me (Tim) with your choice and a US address.