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He is an American treasure; a clear-eyed fantasist without peer; a literary icon who has created wonder for the better part of seven decades. He has a moon crater named after him and a star on Hollywood Boulevard's Walk of Fame. He has been showered with accolades and honored with prizes galore, everything from an Emmy Award to the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He has inspired generations of readers to dream, think, invent, believe, and fly. When Ray Bradbury ...
He is an American treasure; a clear-eyed fantasist without peer; a literary icon who has created wonder for the better part of seven decades. He has a moon crater named after him and a star on Hollywood Boulevard's Walk of Fame. He has been showered with accolades and honored with prizes galore, everything from an Emmy Award to the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He has inspired generations of readers to dream, think, invent, believe, and fly. When Ray Bradbury speaks, it pays dividends in gold to everyone who listens.
Collected between these covers are memories, ruminations, opinions, prophecies, and philosophies from one of the most influential and admired writers of our time: indelible boyhood experiences that molded the man, as well as his eye-opening, sometimes hilarious true adventures in the realm of the famous and adored; insightful, piquant, often biting, always fascinating reflections on humankind's past and future, and where we stand in the universe today; provocative and deeply affecting musings on the present state of art and the unparalleled glory of creation.
As unique, unabashed, and irrepressible as the artist himself, here is an intimate portrait, painted with the master's own words, of the one and only Bradbury -- far more revealing than any mere memoir, for it opens windows not only into his life and work, but into his mind and heart as well.
Ray Bradbury has something wonderful to say.
My Demon, Not Afraid of Happiness (undated)
I have a strange and incredible muse that, unseen, has engulfed me during my lifetime. I have renamed my muse. In a Frederick Seidel poem, I found a perfect replacement, where he tells of "A Demon not afraid of happiness."
This perfectly describes the Demon that sits now on one shoulder, now on the other, and whispers things that no one else hears.
My Demon warned me one night years ago when I saw some glum theater at UCLA. Later I said to the director, "You want me to stick my wet finger in a wall socket for electrocution. Instead I will screw a brighter bulb in the same socket and light the room."
So my Demon warned me off such encounters and provided invisible material for my future life.
Dandelion Wine, for example, began as an essay in Gourmet magazine in 1953, and over the years my Demon tripped me, sprawling, into a novel to be read in American schools.
On my twenty-fourth birthday, I discovered Winesburg, Ohio, which is indeed not a novel but a short-story collection by Sherwood Anderson. How fine, I thought, if someday I could birth similar grotesques to inhabit Mars.
My Demon, provoked, secretly made travel plans to landfall Mars, live there, and arrive at an unplanned novel, The Martian Chronicles.
Green Shadows, White Whale resulted from my life in Ireland, when for eight months I wrote the screenplay of Moby Dick for John Huston. At the time I thought I wasnot sponging in any of the green atmosphere or the characters of sad and beautiful Ireland. But then one night, a year later, a voice spoke in my head and said, "Ray, darlin'. "And I said, "Who's that?" The voice said, "It's Nick, your cabdriver. Remember all those nights of my driving you back from Kilcock to Dublin and describing the mist and the fog and the rain along the way? Do you remember that, Ray?" "Yes," I said.Then the voice said with the voice of my Demon, "Would you get up and put that down?" I got up, surprised, and went to my typewriter and began to write a series of poems, essays, and one-act plays that finally shared a San Francisco theater with Sean O'Casey.
Twenty years passed with more essays, poems, and stories, and I woke one morn to find in that litter Green Shadows, White Whale, a novel, complete and intact.
A short tale, "The Black Ferris," melded itself into a screenplay for Gene Kelly, and when Kelly couldn't find the money for the film, I spent three years turning the screenplay into the novel Something Wicked This Way Comes.
Then at last there is my late-on offspring From the Dust Returned, commenced when I drew skeletons, age six, to scare my cousins, continued in secret when I helped redecorate my grandparents' house with Halloween broomsticks, and ended with a gothic story, "Homecoming," rejected by Weird Tales as needful of Marley's ghost and lacking Poe. I sold the story to Mademoiselle, and over the years it grew in rain and mist and arrived in fogs as a novel just last year.
What we have here, then, is a very unusual approach to writing and discovering, not knowing the outcome. To move ahead on a blind journey, running fast, putting down thoughts as they occur.
And along the way my inner voice advised:
If you must write of assassinations, rapes, and Ophelia suicides, speak the speech, I pray thee, poetry in your breath, metaphors on your tongue. Remember how glad Iago was to think on Othello's fall. How, with smiles, Hamlet prepared his uncle's death.
Shakespeare and my Demon schooled me so: Be not afraid of happiness. It is often the soul of murder.Bradbury Speaks
|My demon, not afraid of happiness (undated)||3|
|Vin revivere, or a vintage revisited (1991)||6|
|How something wicked came (1996)||8|
|Lincoln's doctor's dog's butterfly (undated)||11|
|The whale, the whim, and I (undated)||16|
|All's well that ends well ... or, unhappily ever after (2003)||23|
|Remembrance of books past (2004)||28|
|Predicting the past, remembering the future (2001)||35|
|Mars : too soon from the cave, too far from the stars (2000)||43|
|Earthrise and its faces (1999)||51|
|Falling upward, or walking backward to the future (1999)||54|
|Beyond Giverny (1994)||61|
|Lord Russell and the pipsqueak (undated)||78|
|More, much more, by Corwin (1999)||87|
|Because of the wonderful things he does (1999)||93|
|A milestone at milestone's : Bonderchuk remembered (undated)||98|
|Free pass at heaven's gate (1999)||101|
|GBS : refurbishing the tin woodman : science fiction with a heart, a brain, and the nerve! (1997)||106|
|The beautiful bad weather (2000)||119|
|The affluence of despair : America through the looking glass (1998)||126|
|The hunchback, the phantom, the mummy, and me (undated)||133|
|Any friend of trains is a friend of mine (1968)||137|
|I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore! (the new millennium, that is) (undated)||144|
|The rabbit hole lost and found book shoppe (undated)||155|
|Beyond 1984 (1979)||161|
|The ardent blashemers (1962)||170|
|That future with a funny name (1995)||187|
|Hysteria, goddess of flight, or on takeoff, do not run up and down the aisles screaming (1993)||190|
|Time to explore again : where is the madman who'll take us to mars? (2004)||199|
|Paris : always destroyed, always triumphant (1986)||205|
|The sixty-minute Louvre : Paris by stopwatch (1993)||208|
|Queen of angels, not quite ready for her close-up (undated)||217|
|L.A., how do I love thee? (undated)||219|
|L.A., Outta the way and let us happen! (2000)||222|
|L.A., we are the world! : a new-millennium revelation (1989)||228|
|Disneyland, or Disney's demon for happiness (undated)||237|
Posted May 7, 2012
A collection of essays about a wide range of subjects written throughout most of Bradbury's career. I highly recommend it for Bradbury readers who would like to know more about the man behind his stories.
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Posted January 31, 2014
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