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!