I have already posted about Ray Bradbury’s passing, but he had such a big impact on me as a reader and writer that I feel like I want to revisit his career’s influence one more time. He was just that important to what I aspired — and still aspire — to be. As my friend and collaborator Zaki Hasan said in his post on the subject, “the impact he had on my life, as a reader, a filmgoer, and a writer is hard to encapsulate.”
I discovered Bradbury pretty early, and he stuck with me all my life. I’d read most of his work several times, and even 30 years after I first read it, some of it just kills me every time. Dandelion Wine makes me nostalgic not only for the summers I lost long ago — it was a HUGE influence on not just on this illustrated story I wrote, but on an unpublished short story and novel based on the same tale — but it makes me nostalgic for times I’ve never had.
Do you get that? He wrote about times, places, and people I never experienced … and yet made me pine for them as if they were from my own past.
That was Bradbury’s special power. How did he make me feel wistful for things I never experienced? What kind of a magician was he to do that?
Such is the power of a great writer.
Sadly, I only recently got my son into Bradbury. Years ago I read Something Wicked This Way Comes out loud to him. It was one of our final books together. (I read out loud to him almost every night between the ages of 4 and 13, and that’s not a lie. In our household, reading has always been important.) Not much since. I recently suggested to him Fahrenheit 451, which he loved, so he read The Illustrated Man, which he also loved. Next is The Martian Chronicles, which to my astonishment is on his freshman reading list.
Yet my son will never know a world with Bradbury as a living man.
And that’s too bad, ’cause that dude was still writing great stories into his 80s! He was still writing great story collections in his twilight years.
I will be blessed if I can say the same.