I was going to be witty today, or failing that, at least silly, in another too-long, rambly anecdote about the kids and parenting and what-not.
But then, on twitter, I saw this:
R.I.P. Ray Bradbury, Author of Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles on.io9.com/aM5r
— io9 (@io9) June 6, 2012
which was shortly followed by this:
Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 author whose writing career spanned genres and generations, has died. He was 91: apne.ws/KhQGOJ -ldh
— The Associated Press (@AP) June 6, 2012
Image courtesy of Goodreads.com
I never met Ray Bradbury, wrote him a fan letter, or happened to have him sign something, but his work has affected me since I was young. Of the hundreds of strange, inconsequential little things we all remember in life, I’ll never forget my 7th grade Academic Team coach (sponsor? nerd-wrangler?) asking in that dry, English-teacher monotone, “The title of what book is described by the phrase, ”The temperature at which books burn?’”
Immediately after, the room was filled with the sound of geeks smacking an electronic buzzer plunger furiously. It was practice question repeated frequently. More often than not, I buzzed in first to answer.
I was the designated literature nerd, after all.
More importantly, though, that question captured my interest. It was the first time I’d really thought about censorship, and it kindled for me what eventually became a lifelong hatred/wariness of it.
It was also the first time I can remember realizing that a modern sci-fi-ish/speculative novel could have complex themes rather than just being a bit of escapism. Suddenly literature was potentially all around me, no longer solely the purview of men who’d died a century before I was born.
Oh, and I’m pretty sure my subconscious dislike of circuses and carnivals was born of “Something Wicked This Way Comes.”
Like I said, I never met Ray Bradbury, wrote him a fan letter, or happened to have him sign something. But he’s part of the reason that in middle school I first dreamed of becoming a writer, part of the reason I am who I try to be today.
So, thank you, Mr. Bradbury, and may you rest in peace. Your work has touched so many, and will live on with us.
I’ll be silly again tomorrow, I promise.