Thursday, June 7, 2012

Ray Bradbury, You Are An Inspiration

Years ago I was asked a peculiar question from a friend that was looking for a book recommendation.

"What's one of the scariest books you've read?"

I didn't have to think much. By that point, I'd alread a lot of greats ranging from Stephen King to Anne Rice to Bram Stoker to Edgar Allan Poe. I'd read some great classics like The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, Shakespeare, Wuthering Heights, was becoming a fan of Harry Potter, and others. I really had quite the eclectic taste, I guess you could say. My natural love was the darker side of fiction though as mentioned above with Stephen King and other horror-genre authors.

This particular question stuck out to me. My friend was looking for something specific--and something that had scared me to a certain point.
Shortly before, I'd read this one book for a class and it did. I hadn't forgotten it. The words and idea followed me everywhere. There was something underlying in its message that was truly frightening. Not in the ways of monsters, serial killers, or ghoulish creatures (this includes creepy ass clowns, too, Mr. King--thanks a bunch for that), but in an entire different form of scary.

My answer: Fahrenheit 451.

I was first introduced to this story when I was sixteen. I couldn't read it again for a long time, to be honest, because the thought of this world made me cry. It still makes me cry. Bradbury inspired me in ways beyond just as a writer, but as a reader. His books and quotes taught me a lot, and tragically, much of Fahrenheit 451 is a smack in the face of today's reality. Technology does overrun our lives. Censorship does try to control everything (Seriously? Still banning books? Come on!). And last but certainly not least, many people just don't read BOOKS the way they used to anymore (why do you think I joined the awesome book blogging community? I needed to find that connection with people who were like me because it's so hard to find it around me!)

I awoke late Wednesday morning to hear the sad news of Bradbury's passing. Though I know there's been many, many posts, tweets, FB messages and yada yada yada in regards to this, I only felt it necessary to make my own. We have lost a great in our community this week. It breaks my heart.
This was a man who crafted worlds and characters of depth. This was a man who was ahead of his time, inspired many of my own favorite authors, was an inspiration to me as well, and made a bleak world seem bright. I am proud to display this author's books on my shelf. I have always been proud.

Neil Gaiman couldn't have said it better on his journal today either:

I can imagine all kinds of worlds and places, but I cannot imagine a world without Bradbury. Not Ray Bradbury the man (I have met him. Each time I have spent any time with him I have been left the happier for it) but Bradbury the builder of dreams. That Bradbury. The man who took an idea of the American Midwest and made it magical and tangible, who took his own childhood and all the people and things in it and used it to shape the world. The man who gave us a future to fear, one without stories, without books. --Neil Gaiman (blogged at his journal)
 I'll close with these final words:

Thank you, Ray Bradbury. Thank you.

"There must be something in books, things we can't imagine." --Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

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