In Memory of Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury died today at the age of 91. It is probably impossible to sum up Bradbury’s influence on 20th Century American Literature, and I’m not going to try, because, frankly, I’m less concerned with his place in American Letters than I am in the ways he touched my life. Not only did he pen some of the most beloved stories ever written, but he did it with such joy, such style, such love of the act of creation, that he infected everyone who read him with that love. I was one of those lucky enough to be infected at a very early age.

So, in honor of Mr. Bradbury, that towering genius, I’m going to reprint a review I wrote of THE OCTOBER COUNTRY, which is not only my favorite Bradbury book, but might very well be my favorite book of all time.

Here it is: The October Country Revisited:

I discovered Ray Bradbury’s The October Country twice. The first time, I think I was twelve or thirteen — the perfect age to discover him. There was a magical quality in those stories that caught hold of me and grew like a beautiful flower in my mind. My love of horror was born right there, during that first reading.

Three decades went by.

I read a lot more books.

I even wrote a few.

So, when I discovered The October Country a second time, it was as a grown man, and as a writer. The editor in me noticed his prose sometimes tried too hard to sound like poetry, and his vision of childhood was sometimes too sweet, too sentimental.

But oddly, I loved the book even more for those small faults. Great books, I think, are born out of small, almost insignificant faults, and The October Country is a great book. Perfect, in other words, is boring . . . and Bradbury never bores.

Take care, Ray Bradbury, and thanks for giving us all so very much!

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3 Comments

  1. RJ Spears

     /  June 7, 2012

    There’s almost no better way to honor an author who has passed than to read and re-read their work. Much of my love of science fiction and the macabre is a result of reading Bradbury. I first read a couple of his short stories in a high school English class and then went on to devour much of his work.

    My favorite Bradbury novel is “Something Wicked This Way Comes” and also love many of his short stories — The Pedestrian, The Veldt, A Sound of Running Thunder…really too many to name.

    I do agree that at times he was a bit too lyrical with his prose and he had rose-colored, nostalgic view of childhood, but I think that’s what I love about him.

    Thanks,
    RJ Spears

    Reply
  2. joemckinney

     /  June 9, 2012

    Hey RJ,

    Great comment! Thank you! Something Wicked This Comes is another stroke of genius. I do love his short stories most of all, though! So many wonderful tales to choose from.

    Joe

    Reply
  3. I have always been enthralled with The Martian Chronicles. The story and the movie played a key role in my my lifetime of fascination with astronomy and science fiction in general. People can say what they want to about the way that he wrote, but I am in agreement with you that he had an incredible impact on American Literature. His stories sparked the imagination of scores and scores of people.

    Reply

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