“Let the world burn through you. Throw the prism light, white hot, on paper.” ~Ray Bradbury
When something newsworthy happens in the writing world, I’m inclined to write about it. When that something is the death of one of the most legendary and prolific writers of our time, I have to write about it.
Author Ray Bradbury passed away after long illness on June 5th at the age of 91. In a career that spanned more than seven decades, he wrote hundreds of short stories, close to 50 books and numerous poems, essays and screenplays. But perhaps he is best known for his science fiction novel Farenheit 451 and other classics like The Martian Chronicles and Something Wicked This Way Comes. Much of his work has been turned into film, television shows and radio plays.
My mother remembers him first from comic books. Many of his short stories appeared in science fiction digests and comics in the 1950s.
His incredible imagination and love of the fantastic was part of him even as a child. He liked to recount the story of meeting a carnival magician, Mr. Electrico, in 1932. At the end of the performance, Mr. Electrico reached out his sword, touched the 12 year-old Bradbury on the forehead and commanded, “Live forever!” Bradbury says he decided that was the greatest idea he’d ever heard. He started writing every day and never stopped.
I am always touched by the passion with which he talked or wrote about writing. This video, taken at the age of 86, can move me to tears. I get that way in the presence of truly passionate people, particularly when their passion is writing. My writing teacher often reads passages from Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing and our group sits marveling at his prose.
It is fitting that the ending of Farenheit 451 reads:
“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.”