Over the last few hours, news has come out that author Ray Bradbury died sometime last night. I had to say a little something about Mr. Bradbury. He was one of the greatest writers of Science Fiction. Aside from that, he ranks among one of the most talented authors across all the genres.
There are not many authors, or even readers, that were not touched by at least one of Ray Bradbury’s many stories. I’m no exception. I want to take a moment to reflect on how Ray Bradbury’s work’s influence on my life.
As high school came along for me, I’d really come to hate reading. At this time, my reading influence came from whatever novel the English Teachers issued out and made us read. Some of them I forced myself to struggle through and read. Others, I simply sat at the back of the class and hoped I wasn’t called on for discussion.
One day, we were reading through our English Text book. It often had a number of dull and boring (in my opinion) short stories that we had to read. We’d then pick the author’s brain to pieces. On one particular day, we came across “The Veldt” by Ray Bradbury. A story and author I had never heard of. After reading that story, I was in shock about how much I enjoyed it. I went back, reread it again at home, and then again the next day (and over the years I have read it many times over). To this date, it is the only short story that I remember so clearly.
I’d be lying if I said that I was hooked on reading ever since. I went right back into my ‘sitting at the back of the class’ mentality. Then a year later, our class was assigned Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. It is my understanding not many classes at my High School read that book. I guess I was just lucking. I read every assigned reading, and I even read ahead. I was done with the book before the fourth chapter was assigned to us. For the first time, I was at the front of the class, active in every discussion. I wasn’t even afraid to tell the teacher that I thought her interpretation of the text was wrong. I had to go back and read at the assigned speed to I could stay on top of our discussions, and I didn’t even mind doing it.
From that moment on my interest in reading was sparked. I found a genre I enjoyed and I was trying to read it all. But, I also go a better appreciation of novels outside my favorite genre. I enjoyed reading (though I still didn’t enjoy Teacher’s opinions on symbolism). Of course, my reading guided me to my desire to write. Really if it hadn’t been for Mr. Bradbury, I don’t know what I’d be doing today. Perhaps I’d be a teacher (cringe).
I understand that Mr. Bradbury wrote up until his death. I hope that I have the will to do the same. Ray Bradbury is a literary icon and the world should take a moment to reflect on the art he has given us. I hope his family can take comfort in the fact that so many people, like me, are inspired by him. Rest in Peace Ray Bradbury, I hope you found your own paradise to relax in.
Some of my favorite Ray Bradbury Quotes:
“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”
“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t “try” to do things. You simply “must” do things.”
“There’s no use going to school unless your final destination is the library.”
“If you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you and you’ll never learn” From Fahrenheit 451
“There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches.”
“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”
“If we listened to our intellect we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go in business because we’d be cynical: “It’s gonna go wrong.” Or “She’s going to hurt me.” Or,”I’ve had a couple of bad love affairs, so therefore . . .” Well, that’s nonsense. You’re going to miss life. You’ve got to jump off the cliff all the time and build your wings on the way down.”
AND MOST FITTING:
“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.
It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.” From Fahrenheit 451