Long Live Ray Bradbury (1920-2012)

( Los Angeles Times )
Bradbury (in 1975) didn’t drive a car. But he was often out and about in L.A., browsing bookstores’ stacks, his bicycle propped just outside.

Rare is the writer who holds as powerful a sway over readers’ imaginations as Ray Bradbury.  He emphasized the importance of one’s loves and interests on one’s work–see his essay “My Demon–Not afraid of happiness” collected in Bradbury Speaks–Too Soon from the Cave, Too Far from the Stars.  That powerful imagination saw distant galaxies and many possible futures for humankind.  Even as he excelled as a Science Fiction writer his focus seldom deviated from what it means to be human.  In the above essay, he describes how difficult it was to write a piece for Life magazine that relied heavily on research (about life on other worlds, to boot); yet, on the occasion of lunching with editors from the same magazine, asked whether he could write a piece on trains, he excused himself, ran to his office across the street and returned by dessert to sell them the piece, fresh from his typewriter.  These essays, like much of his work are, to quote the man, “born of explosions of love and quiet passion.”

He spoke as Niehoff lecturer to the Mercantile Library on October 7, 1994.  Buck Niehoff picked him up in Dayton and afterwards drove him to the airport, affording the men plenty of time to chat (see “Ray Bradbury: Dreamer”, in Buck Niehoff’s Something Funny at the Library).  Because Bradbury couldn’t afford college, he claimed to have been educated in the public library by a couple of librarians who told him what to read.  On the occasion of the visit, Buck and Patti Niehoff introduced him to Graeters icecream.  He approached the peppermint icecream as he did his work–with great zeal–then announced to them that he shouldn’t have eaten it, as his doctor had recently informed him he was an incipient diabetic.  The Niehoffs were mortified, but instead of sickening him, the icecream had the opposite effect.  Bradbury delivered what was, according to the Niehoffs, no strangers to Bradbury’s lectures, one of the best lectures they had ever heard him give.  As Buck records in his book, Bradbury opened thus:  “You have before you a book lover, a library lover.”  Later, he said: “I have a helluva lot of fun doing what I do . . . I’ve had a great life . . . doing all the things people told me I couldn’t do.”

-Ed Scripsi

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  1. […] Long Live Ray Bradbury (1920-2012) « Stacked. Ray Bradbury […]


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