The Magic of Bradbury

I was a rosy-cheeked five-year-old when Kurt Cobain died and had no idea who he was until another five years later; I was too young to really be staggered by the death of Michael Jackson recently, who’s career had already wound to its ruin when I was young. I’ve never been greatly affected or traumatized by death and it made me feel like a cold, heartless beast- or possible just a naive, innocent to make myself sound less demonized- until recently when Ray Bradbury left us last week. This was a man who I honestly expected to live forever. And, with him gone, I felt a ripple shake through the literary world like the collapsing of a dying star.Growing up I was never really exposed to literature all too often. My parents didn’t read much, but maintained a small collection of books mostly as decor (a tradition that hasn’t changed as I swipe their copy of East of Eden from their aesthetics and add it to my collection). Knowledge of books came to me through the television and thus I only read Goosebumps and the like till the Harry Potter explosion. Because of my living under a rock in this way, I had never heard of Bradbury till my teacher tossed me a nice, new crisp copy of Fahrenheit 451 in my sophomore year of high school. It’s embarrassing, but true, I relied on the education system to kickstart my literary interests and thus came to this book much later than I should have, but my only wish now was that I knew of him so many years earlier.I read it voraciously, miles ahead of my class and re-reading certain parts again (I love the character Clarisse McClellan). Throughout my life I’ve probably read it five times. I later got a copy of The Martian Chronicles and read it with the same vigor. Bradbury touched on so many things I loved with such casual wisdom that I had never read before in any book (by that time I had a sound knowledge of fantasy, but hardly any science fiction). Bradbury, put simply, is magic. This was a man you wish your grandfather could be. His settings in small-town America just made him the most typically “American” of science-fiction authors to me, he represented the things I found fantastic and made the paved streets of suburbia twinkle with mystery, intrigue, magic, and even terror.

Hallowe’en is my favorite time of year. I absolutely love the feel in the air of chills, fears, riddles and secrets. Ray Bradbury perfectly encapsulates these same feelings in his words, for there is no one more Hallowe’en than Bradbury. From The Halloween Tree to The October Country this is a man who understands the childlike fascination with this time of year. His books are full of delightful kids who make you long for your childhood like no one else and gives them the grandest adventures through dark, moonlit streets and fields, to the frightening carnival just outside of town, with monsters, ghosts, phantoms, aliens and every time of creature you can think of. His details made everything feel electric and all too real; it felt as if were actually there and dictating it to you while you read. It felt too perfect, too pristine.

It was a goal of mine, till recently, to one day meet Bradbury and just thank him for everything. I’ve wanted to be an author for years now, since before I’d read Fahrenheit but his contribution has had a pronounced affect on me and my writing that I owe to him. For years now I hoped that Mr. Electrico, a carnival entertainer who greatly influenced Bradbury at a young age, touching him on the nose with an electrified sword and muttered, “Live forever,” had honestly worked some great form of magic and that he would live long enough for me to meet this great man. Sadly, I never will now; but I still have his books, his characters, and a gentle sound of thunder.

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~ by Ghostess on June 15, 2012.

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