Wow. Ray Bradbury, one of the greatest writers of our time, just passed away at the age of 91. The news is affecting me a lot more than I thought it would.
My first exposure to Bradbury’s work came in seventh grade, when I read Farenheit 451 as part of the required summer reading. Most of the books I read in middle school and high school were quite forgettable, but that one stuck with me, especially the scene with the professors scholars sitting around homeless in front of the fire.
Later in college, when I was just starting to find my footing as a writer, I read Zen and the Art of Writing, and it had quite a positive impact while I was still largely insecure about my own writing. The most memorable piece of advice I gleaned from it was to write about the stuff that really moved me–to infuse all my writing with passion, and not give a damn about those who told me otherwise. That helped give me the strength to tell the stories that I love, which is now a huge part of everything I do.
My favorite Bradbury work is his collection The Martian Chronicles. The stories in that book are just amazing, and infused to the core with passion. I remember breathlessly reading the one about the astronauts who land on Mars, only to find a beautiful Ohio village populated with all of the friends and family that they’d left behind. Wow.
Whenever I pick up a Bradbury story, it’s like having this little old man clasp his hands on my shoulders and, with a gleam in his eye, shake me until I’m sure I’ll never forget it. Every story is like a roller coaster, with stunning heights, beautiful views, and drops that make you scream for your life. It’s awesome.
It brings tears to my eyes to know that he’s gone, but they’re bittersweet tears of the best kind. The man had a rich, full life, and lived to see his work appreciated for how great it truly is. At 27 novels and over 600 short stories, with more than 8 million copies in print in at least 36 languages, he has truly left us a great wealth of literature. Some mourn that the world is a poorer place because of his passing, but I rejoice for how rich the world is because he lived at all.
Goodbye, Ray Bradbury. Your stories truly changed the world.