Ξ June 18th, 2012 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Creativity, Fine Arts Indeed, UNBOUND, BOUND, and my other creations |
Ray Bradbury passed away a few weeks ago, and I wanted to leave this little tribute in place to honor his memory and significant place in my life. I tend to forget about his influence upon my early reading years as they were largely taken up with the classics, thanks to my parents bringing me up in an environment populated with the Work of creative geniuses of nearly every stripe. I think I was led to him around age 13 through Poe and Verne, and possibly a credit on a “Twilight Zone” episode and/or the movie Moby Dick, depending when I saw them. In any case, we go way back!
My earliest recollection is from a pocketbook entitled The Autumn People, a compilation of Bradbury-penned short stories that were reprinted from E.C. Comics, who had run them in the early ’50s. Summertime in the ’6os was spent at our grandparents’ house in Boyes Hot Springs (near Sonoma), a town that at that time was very much like the small towns of Bradbury’s imagination. That book went with me everywhere that summer (and looks it, if memory serves me well)! After lights out I used to read it under the covers with a flashlight; I think my mom was not very keen on the book-that-is-actually-a-comic-book idea so I tried to ensure that it wasn’t “requisitioned” by keeping it well out of sight (but it did get taken away twice) LOL
It not only introduced me to Bradbury but to sequential art (aka “comic books”) as well. Where my earlier literary heroes had already stirred my soul and opened my young mind, Ray’s stories touched my heart, in his evocations of small town life, more-caring (and sometimes very cruel!) characters, singular plots, and emotions that ran very strong just beneath the story’s surface but were plain to read, feel, and see in the others around us. I love stuff like that, the deeper-felt the better (which partly explains my fascination with anime and other art-works). As hard-assed as everyone pretends to be in this cynical ugly age, we’re all just softies at heart xD
There was something else about Ray’s storytelling: his stories seemed real, his characters true and his fiction believable. He revealed to me what universal feelings were hidden in our common heart, and what menace and joy (everyday or otherworldly) may lie behind the illusion of a seemingly quiet, peaceful, uneventful life. That is, until Something Happens and puts all “normal” things in a very different light, the color and shape of which we hadn’t seen before.
He was the master of the short story. My first Bradbury book was Twice 22, which contained A Medicine for Melancholy and The Golden Apples of the Sun each featuring 22 bite-sized stories. From its first entry, “The Fog Horn”, a story about a dinosaur lured to the modern-day surface to respond to a sound like its kin, I was hooked. I liked dinosaurs anyway at that age, so it was an easy sell xD
Just the titles of some stories bring back fond recollections of reading them for the first time, like “The Flying Machine”, “The Golden Kite, the Silver Wind”, “Dark They Were, and Golden-Eyed” (a fave all-time title), “The Golden Apples of the Sun”, and “I See You Never”.
He reminds me of why I enjoyed telling stories in the first place: to evoke that sense of wonder, almost childlike at times, at the wonderful (if a bit scary) world we live in. To see things a little differently so as to better cherish and share them. To touch, make contact with, and communicate with each other in ways that are unexpected, surprising, and rewarding. To sculpt characters we care about, and want to get to know. I think I’ve done this, and hope you’ll agree
During the writing of UNBOUND, I wanted absolutely no influences, elevated idols, even music, writing or anything else to come out in my work which I wanted as individualistic and different a story as a Reader is ever likely to read. Ironically, despite my high estimation, Ray never occurred to me in my embrace of the Shelleys, Milton, Cohen, and the like as their creations mingled with my own and who needed to be in the story, as it was “theirs”. Afterwards I stepped back and wondered about “my voice”, about what informed its more earthly point of view as opposed to its more ethereal and airy patois. I never recognized it until recently, in fact: it’s downright Bradbury-an! But that may just be me
Hopefully in a few months you can see for yourselves; I’m trying to set things in motion
I had Creative Writing classes throughout high school, where we were encouraged to express ourselves much in the evocative way that Bradbury did. During the writing-time of UNBOUND I came across advisement that said NOT to do so if wishing to pass the Big Seven’s (publishers) muster. Apparently they are big on cookie-cutting. And muster-ing. And don’t want any of that “creative” writing nonsense in their Product. It wasn’t until the advent of self-publishing that the ability to write and publish in your own voice became possible, and if the big publishers don’t want to “take a chance” on us then we certainly will, and go for that golden ring
One of the most recent books I’ve been able to afford/buy has been Bradbury Stories, a huge compendium of one hundred of his best short stories. Most of them are very short and easily-digested, which is about all I can handle right now due to RL not lending itself well to reading. But the magic is still there, and it’s been fun reconnecting to someone I’d almost forgotten about. More, it reconnected me with a bit of myself I’d forgotten about as well! I want to tell stories like these…
“This is Bradbury at his very best – golden visions of tomorrow, poetic memories of yesterday, dark nightmares and glorious dreams – a grand celebration of humankind, God’s intricate yet poignantly fallible machineries of joy.” (from back flap of Bradbury Stories)
Thus the career of many a writer begins, oftentimes before he/she even knows it
Thanks for everything Ray. Mr. Electrico was right; you will live forever!