American author Ray Bradbury passed away last week, on June 5th. I couldn’t let his passing go by without a blog entry in his honor, because I’ve enjoyed many a tale by him. Most of you probably have read some of his works, especially Farenheit 451, but he also wrote The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Dandelion Wine, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and others. Dandelion Wine has a special place in my heart because it includes a moment when a young boy realizes he’s alive. That may sound odd, but I remember having a moment exactly like that when I was very young and out on my swing. I’m alive, I suddenly realized. I suppose you could say that’s the moment, in Terminator-speak, of becoming self-aware. There’s much more in that book that made an impression on me, but you’ll have to read it to see if it has any effect on you! I can assure that I am not alone in appreciating Bradbury’s talent; Bradbury received many honors, from the National Medal of Arts in 2004 to the title Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master from the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America in 1989. When he received the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters in 2000 from the National Book Foundation, he credited libraries for his education (You’ll have to read the speech to learn how Farenheit 451 is connected to both the UCLA library and Playboy):
“This is quite amazing because who you’re honoring tonight is not only myself but the ghost of a lot of your favorite writers. And I wouldn’t be here except that they spoke to me in the library. The library’s been the center of my life. I never made it to college. I started going to the library when I graduated from high school. I went to the library every day for three or four days a week for 10 years and I graduated from the library when I was 28.”
Andersen Library has several of Bradbury’s books, and I recommend them to you. Search the HALCAT to get their call numbers. Three of his books are available as graphic novels here, too (Farenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, and Something Wicked This Way Comes).
RIP, Ray Bradbury. I think I’ll reread my copy of Dandelion Wine this summer!