JUNE 6, 2012 1:29PM

Ray Bradbury’s Summer

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 Ray Bradbury, still writing at age 91, died last night in his Los Angeles home. 

 

But Douglas Spaulding, age 12, he of Ray Bradbury’s masterpiece “Dandelion Wine,” he’s still here. Open up that book like you would open up summer and listen to this man write,

 

“It was a quiet morning, the town covered over with a darkness and at ease in bed. Summer gathered in the weather, the wind had the proper touch, the breathing of the world was long and warm and slow. You had only to rise, lean from your window and know that this indeed was the first real time of freedom and living, this was the first morning of summer.”

 

“The great thing about my life,” Bradbury said in 1982, “is that everything I’ve done is the result of what I did when I was 12 or 13.”

 

“Green Town” Illinois, where the author sets “Dandelion Wine” is his birthplace of Waukegan Illinois, a far northern suburb of Chicago.

And it’s in the gentle, green and then sometimes breathtakingly terrifying deep green ravines along the shoreline of Lake Michigan that this writer for the ages began telling his stories. He lived his life in California, but he was rooted in those Green Town ravines.

 

Known primarily for his science fiction work, there was a deep core of social justice that ran through his writing. The Martian Chronicles, his first big success, was in fact about colonizing Mars. But the trial of that colonization told of racism and cold war superpowers battling it out.

 

Drawing from the pulp magazines, the lyricism of Thomas Wolfe and the rhythms of Hemingway, Bradbury – armed with a ferocious work ethic—just kept writing. “I never went to college,” he once said, “so I went to the library.”

 

Bradbury often said that he remembered everything. Literally everything.

 

His father was a descendent of a woman tried for witchcraft at the Salem Massachusetts trials. His Mother read him The Wizard of Oz. And he had an Aunt who introduced him to Edgar Allen Poe.

 

He is survived by four daughters. His wife of 56 years, Marguerite Bradbury, died in 2003.

 

His work will be in schools, libraries and the hands of children forever.

 

Children like the ones on the planet Venus in the haunting “All Summer In a Day.” A story published in 1954. A story that begins:

 

“No one in the class could remember a time when there wasn't rain."

 

And then goes on . . . .

 

"Ready?"

"Ready."

"Now?"

"Soon."

"Do the scientists really know?  Will it happen today, will it?"

"Look, look; see for yourself!"

 

The children pressed to each other like so many roses, so many weeds, intermixed, peering out for a look at the hidden sun.

        

It rained.

 

It had been raining for seven years; thousand upon thousands of days compounded and filled from one end to the other with rain, with the drum and gush of water, with the sweet crystal fall of showers and the concussion of storms so heavy they were tidal waves come over the islands.  A thousand forests had been crushed under the rain and grown up a thousand times to be crushed again.  And this was the way life was forever on the planet Venus, and this was the schoolroom of the children of the rocket men and women who had come to a raining world to set up civilization and live out their lives.

 

"It's stopping, it's stopping!"

 

"Yes, yes!"

        

Margot stood apart from these children who could never remember a time when there wasn't rain and rain and rain.  They were all nine years old, and if there had been a day, seven years ago, when the sun came out for an hour and showed its face to the stunned world, they could not recall.”

 

That’s how Ray Bradbury’s story begins. If you’re interested in what happens to Margot? You can find the rest of the story on the web. Google the title, “All Summer In a Day.”

 

Or you can find it in a library. Like the ones Ray Bradbury knew.

 

And you can listen to that man write.

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So glad you got word out so quickly Roger. All hail one of the greatest writers the world has ever heard.
He is a perfect example of how "going to college" isn't the be all, end all for creative people. He was destined to be great, no matter what.
My favorite is "Something Wicked This Way Comes"
:-(

Rated and Tink Picked(which will get you maybe 1 more reader and an offer to Move Away from Here from a Nigerian Princess but still...well worth the price!! :D)
Of all the fine writers here who might have been the bearer of this sad news I can think of none more fitted to the task than you, Roger. I've always felt a certain exuberant childlike glee in the way Mr. Bradbury spun his extraordinary magic out of ordinary words. I remember reading long ago in an interview with him that when he started writing as a young man nobody gave a hoot for anything he wrote, but that he wanted so badly to write he simply kept on cranking it out until finally somebody bought something and he was on his way. I almost added "and never looked back," but he evidently never looked back from his very first stroke of pen to paper in the crafting of those marvelous memorable tales.
Everyone has to leave us, but when the artistic geniuses have to leave us, it hurts a little more. Great Job C~
Saw the headline on my homepage, but of course, you give me something to read. Fresh and green. You appear to always do.

I had not actually read The Martian Chronicles when I began reading all those college essays written about them, when I worked in the Writing Lab. It was clear he was igniting the kids with his thoughts on about racism and imperialism.

I feel bad that I didn't read the book. I think I will, after I write a few hours today, like you and Ray.
If I am not mistaken, Bradbury was the last of his generation, the last of the truly great science fiction writers, the last of the truly lyrical writers of fantasy. There's a younger generation, of course. There always is....but Bradbury was one of a kind, gently ferocious. Can't say I will miss him....because he's isn't really dead. You can find him inside any of his books.....
For me, it was always Bradbury and Asimov.
The twin towers of imagination!
Loved them both since I could read.

Always will.

Thanks for a very fitting write on a truly great man and imagineer!
JH--And the guy did everything from poetry to screenplays for John Huston movies. The range was huge.

Deborah---SO true. So incredibly true.


jmac--I gotta call that one my favorite too. Scared the crap out of me and I loved it.

Tink--I was wondering what I could get to help me close the deal with that Princess. Thank you!

Matt--"Childlike glee" is exactly right. There are lots of folks who have never known that---so I'm sure they'd find it hard to relate to someone telling them ABOUT the guy.And I am getting a bit tired of doing obituaries. But this guy was too good to not mention.

scanner--Exactly.

Pandora---I can remember him igniting me way back when. The number of people who's lives he touched is uncountable.

sagemerlin--I couldn't imagine it being said any better than that. The quick read of Bradbury can be deceptive. The careful read will show what you said.

Gently ferocious. That is simply perfect.

And you are so right---just open up one of his books. He was the last of his generation and he was one of a kind.
Thank you for this little remembrance of such a wonderful story teller. I awoke to the news this morning which of course made me reminisce about the enjoyment of reading any one of his stories. Compared to so many others he stands out through his imagination and the masterful way he illustrated it.

Too many times when I find an author I truly enjoy I eventually devour all the works they produced disappointed only in that there is no more. With Ray Bradbury he was so prolific reaching the end of his breadth of work will be difficult. I'm sure I will continue to happen across "new" works of his for many years to come.
JD---Twin Towers of imagination. I love that!

Brian---I'm with you on that. I'm guessing, in doing the research for this and looking at titles, I read maybe 1/2 of what they guy wrote. Unbelievably prolific
My favorite of all time even though no one else liked it at the time:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Sing_the_Body_Electric_(The_Twilight_Zone)
I hate to say - I never read him. But I'm reading him now. R
A tribute from one of my heroes driftglass
http://driftglass.blogspot.com/2012/06/rip-ray-bradbury.html
Lunch Lady---I liked it!

Marilyn---You'll be glad you did.

Frank---I read that today. Wow.
I found a book of his stories not too long ago and devoured every one. That one about the rain and one day of sun is terribly sad tho. He was such a pure talent. Great tribute. Thanks.
I had heard he died yesterday Roger but as always, you bring some new into everything you write.
I first read Bradbury finding "Fahrenheit 451" from a used paperback. After that I inhaled the 'Martian Chronicles" and continued to read every book he wrote. I have a love affair with science fiction writers, and will surely miss this one.
This man usually had me hook, line and sinker after two sentences.
He will be missed.
Asimov,Bradbury,etc,so much for these"Golden Years".....most of the people i've really enjoyed are going on without me...
R.
zanelle--Of the 600 plus stories, that one always stuck with me. It was interesting that it was the one the referenced in the Chicago Sun-Times editorial. Probably means they are reading this and will calling any moment to give me a job. On Mars.

Suzy--he brought science fiction into the mainstream. Like no one else

Steel Breeze---I know the feeling, which is why I went down in the basement to look for his books and bring them up to re-read.
The best science fiction writer of my youth. I became overwhelmed by his lyrical use of language, nearly swooning sometimes over a single phrase. I fell in love with his books, and learned to know writing better due to his incandescent courage and gleeful pleasure at telling a tale.
Lovely tribute. Thanks, C.G.
R
No writer could ask for a better epitaph: His work will be in ... the hands of children forever.
PW---He was a "writers writer."

Terry--You got that right!
"Open up that book like you would open up summer." YUM! You captured the magical, mystery of his writing so well. I came here when I heard Ray Bradbury died to see what you might write to honor him...I am never disappointed!
So many thoughtful appreciations for this endearing (and enduring) talent. When I saw the news last week, a light went out in some corner of my particular world. Bradbury was one of the first writers I discovered in elementary school. He made me a lifelong reader, taught me that word magic is indeed real, that the printed page could be so alive. I've thought so much about his importance since last week, and (for me) it is quite simply this: his life embodied the gifts of authenticity, his stories tangible proof of a clear, open connection to the song of the universe. Small wonder that love and gratitude, which he spoke of often, were the touchstones of his being: they bestowed on him an inexhaustible fire to imagine and create. Who better to help us appreciate the simple gifts of a summer's day?....