Thursday, June 07, 2012

R.I.P. Mr. Bradbury

I didn't know Ray Bradbury.  I never met him, never got to go to a signing.  But his passing yesterday made me very, very sad - almost like I lost a friend.  Somehow the world was just a little more interesting because there was always the possibility that he would publish something - an essay, a short story, an interview, a letter to the editor.  I'm so sad.

One of my favorite short stories ever is The Laurel and Hardy Love Affair.  I can't describe it.  I won't.  You must read it for yourself.

Almost four years ago I read the entire Harry Potter series in one month.  (I wanted to read it all and be caught up when the last one hit.)  At the end of the marathon, I wrote a blog post (on my first blog) comparing and contrasting J.K. Rowling and Ray Bradbury.  I thought about that post last night.  I'm reposting it here.

Good night, Mr. Bradbury.  We miss you already.

September 6, 2007

I have recovered sufficiently from the Harry Potter series to start reading again.  I needed a break!  Not in a bad way.  But kind of like you don't need to eat for a while after you've had a really wonderful meal.  You want to savor the flavors and digest.  Then some time the next day you're ready for another culinary experience.  Or just a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Well, I have a feeling that my next literary meal is going to be one made up of a string of fantastic appetizers.  I'm going to read "Bradbury Speaks".  It's a collection of short pieces by, you guessed it, Ray Bradbury.

The book that I read just before beginning my tenure at Hogwart's was "Dandelion Wine" by Bradbury.  It was a beautiful read and it has become one of my favorite books.  I could only digest one chapter a night because it was so rich.  After the first two Harry Potter books I noticed that I would have to force myself to put the book down and go to sleep.  That started me thinking about the differences in writing styles between Rowling and Bradbury.  

DISCLAIMER:  I am not trying to say which author is "better".  Neither is better.  I enjoy both.  Both are important contributors to literature.  This is just a post to compare and contrast.  And, as always, I look forward to hearing from anyone who would care to put in their two cents' worth!

I think that the best way to relate the way I see the differences in reading experiences is to describe how I see the authors telling the stories.  I see myself and other friends at Rowling's house on a Saturday night.  We sit in the living room on the edge of our seats while she tells us the latest goings on at Hogwart's.  I see laughter, I see interjections ("No way!"  "He didn't!"  "WHY?!?!?"), I see eye contact between Rowling and all of us.  There's popcorn and butterbeer.  It's a fun, energetic evening with a promise to come back next Saturday night for more.

Bradbury tells us stories on the back porch.  He has a cigar, we all have wine.  He puffs on the cigar, leans back in his chair and regards the ceiling fan.  He speaks slowly.  No one interrupts.  We close our eyes and let his words wash over us.  We smell the flowers about which he speaks.  We feel the breeze across his characters' faces.  We finish the evening and he invites us back next month.

Both are extremely satisfying evenings with superb hosts.   I've enjoyed my time on the floor in J.K.'s living room.  The air has turned cooler now, and the back porch calls.  I'll be sipping wine with Mr. Bradbury for a while.