I was so busy rushing headlong into the future, loving libraries and books and authors with all my heart and soul. was so consumed with becoming myself that I simply didn't notice that I was short, homely, and untalented ...writes Ray Bradbury in the forward to Bradbury Stories: 100 of his Most Celebrated Tales.
I bought the book last night in Kinokunia, hungry to reread the stories that gave me so much pleasure when I was 15 or so, and which weened me off pulp sci-fi comics (the sort of stuff you guys would now call graphic fiction) and probably gave me more reading pleasure than anything else I picked up at that age.
I found them quite by accident : I lived in a small village in the very centre of England, with just one general store with one rotating stand of books for sale, most of which were lurid romances or thrillers.
I was drawn to Bradbury's books by the cover art (and try as I might I can't find pictures of those covers online now). What a happy coincidence it is when the right book and right reader collide!
Almost four decades later (!) I can still remember many of these tales, first encountered in The Illustrated Man and The Golden Apples of the Sun, and despite a jaded palate for reading at the moment (or maybe it's just time to write more?) am so looking forward to re-encountering them and discovering new ones that I didn't find the first time round.
Bradbury is still writing at 90 and recently launched a new collection of stories We'll Always Have Paris. Rob Woodard on The Guardian blog describes Bradbury's latest as being :
... as inventive and life-affirming as ever ...Now Bradbury, his passion for books burning as strongly as ever, has joined the battle to keep libraries open across the US because :
Libraries raised me ... I don’t believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don’t have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn’t go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years.
Here's Ray Bradbury live at The Beverly Hills Library, with other readers presenting extracts from We'll Always Have Paris :