Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Revisiting Bradbury

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 :

8 comments:

Drachen said...

I guess you would like Edgar Rice Burroughs as well?

bibliobibuli said...

why?? haven't read any edgar rice burroughs ... think i should??

Amir Muhammad said...

Never knew he was still alive! On an unrelated front: So is Jane Russell, who turned 88 a few days ago.

bibliobibuli said...

totally unrelated :-P

Yusuf Martin said...

Always loved those Ray Bradbury books. I had my period of Sci Fi books too, from the age of 11, when a new English teacher, who obviously enjoyed Sci Fi, read to us and opened up a whole new world, until sometime in my thirties when I weaned off.

But Bradbury,Asimov,Heinlein, Arthur C Clarke, Jose Farmer etc etc will always remain dear to my heart.

Richard said...

Try his Tarzan or Mars Princess books. Adventure fantasy. Light reading. Think you can read them online.

Yes here: http://burroughs.thefreelibrary.com/Princess-of-Mars

bibliobibuli said...

Richard - the Tarzan books i'd heard of but not the Mars Princess. so that's the Bradbury connection!

Yusuf - i had a religious education teacher just like that. we were of course supposed to be studying the bible, but instead he used to read to us from his favourite sci-fi books and draw moral lessons from them! the best kind of teacher, subversive and inspired

Anonymous said...

Ray Bradbury isn't a lot like ERB. You might as well say he's like H G Wells. Bradbury's tales have a lot more depth to them. The Tarzan books you can read online -- they're fairly uninsipired.