Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A New Favorite Author

Unlike apparently the rest of my countrymen and women, I was never required to read Fahrenheit 451 in high school and to this day have yet to read it.

A couple of months ago when Ray Bradbury passed away, my father-in-law recommended the book "The Illustrated Man" to me, which I bought on a whim at our local bookstore with Robbie one day.  I'd never spent much time reading sci-fi so I went into it unsure of what I'd think.

If you haven't read "The Illustrated Man," the book centers around a man in a circus act who is covered in tattooed illustrations, each of which depicts a different story that changes when one watches the illustration move.  The entire book is composed of the short stories that these illustrations tell--each story is different, with different characters, settings, plots, motifs, and messages.

I hate to sound crass especially in reference to such important literature, but I'm honest with you guys, and this book and Ray Bradbury rocked my fucking world. Never ever have I been so drawn in, so disturbed, so amused by short stories.  Each story, few spanning more than 10 pages, had me absolutely engrossed.  The amazing thing is how timeless they seemed, an impressive feat given that the book was published in 1951 and that many of them reference complex technology that only existed at the time in Bradbury's mind. And though most of the stories are based in science fiction, others touch on a plethora of other topics, each just as well-written as the last.

I passed the book along to Robbie after I read it and I think he was almost as equally moved as I was, particularly by a story called "The Rocket Man." Because I felt like I needed even more of Bradbury's stories, I promptly bought a large 900-page volume of short stories that weren't in "The Illustrated Man."

I'll spare you more of my excited babbling about how amazing Ray Bradbury is, but if you don't mind I'd like to share some of the passages that have moved me the most. A few of these passages are from "The Illustrated Man" and others are from the other collection of Bradbury stories I bought.

From "The Rocket Man":

   I asked Mother about a few things that morning after Father had been gone a number of hours. "Dad said that sometimes you don't act as if you hear or see him," I said. 
  And then she explained everything to me quietly. 
 "When he went off into space ten years ago, I said to myself, 'He's dead.' Or as good as dead. So think of him dead. And when he comes back, three or four times a year, it's not him at all, it's only a pleasant little memory or a dream. And if a memory stops or a dream stops, it can't hurt half as much. So most of the time I think of him dead-" 
 "But other times-" 
  "Other times I can't help myself. I bake pies and treat him as if he were alive, and then it hurts. No, it's better to think he hasn't been here for ten years and I'll never see him again. It doesn't hurt as much." 

From "No Particular Night or Morning":

“We're all fools," said Clemens, "all the time. It's just we're a different kind each day. We think, I'm not a fool today. I've learned my lesson. I was a fool yesterday but not this morning. Then tomorrow we find out that, yes, we were a fool today too. I think the only way we can grow and get on in this world is to accept the fact we're not perfect and live accordingly.”

From "The Laurel and Hardy Love Affair":

"From that twilight hour on the piano stairs on, their days were long, heedless, and full of that amazing laughter that paces the beginning and the run-along rush of any great love affair.  They stopped laughing long enough to kiss and only stopped kissing long enough to laugh at how odd and miraculous it was to find themselves with no clothes to wear in the middle of a bed as vast as life and as beautiful as morning."

"I think it's our mouths," he said. "Until I met you, I never knew I had a mouth. Yours is the most amazing in the world, and it makes me feel as if mine were amazing, too. Were you ever really kissed before I kissed you?"
   "Nor was I. To have lived this long and not known mouths."
   "Dear mouth," she said. "shut up and kiss."

That's all I will share for now to spare your eyes. Have any of you read Ray Bradbury, or any other sci-fi author?


  1. I've read Fahrenheit 451 & I absolutely loved it! Honestly, I've never thought to look for more books by Ray Bradbury. Now, I'm tempted to read The Illustrated Man. I think I will purchase this book soon.

  2. Bradbury is awesome. My husband is reading Bradbury for the first time right now, also. He picked up The Martian Chronicles from our library and is really enjoying it. I've never read The Illustrated Man. We'll have to check that one out next. Dandelion Wine has always been my favorite.


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