Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Farewell to The Illustrated Man

Ray Bradbury died Tuesday. The announcement came today. I guess it's a good time to dust off one of the many volumes of his works that have filled my bookshelves for decades - literally, having survived a move from New York when I was still in college as well as many subsequent moves.

I haven't read one of his books in a long time, but the fact that they remain in place on my bookshelf is a testament to the importance they once held for me. I have forgotten a lot of things over the years but vivid memories of some of the images his words placed in my head persist to this day. The Illustrated Man has illustrated the map of my memories. Such is the power of good literature.

Of his major works, The Martian Chronicles and Something Wicked This Way Comes were always my favorites. (I never cared for his most famous book, Fahrenheit 451, though I recognized its significance relative to the cold war era in which it was created.) But really I enjoyed his short stories best of all. Short, but intense, they packed a wallop. There was a time in my impressionable youth and young adulthood when Bradbury was my favorite author. And hardly a summer has gone by since then that hasn't been infused with his vision of Dandelion Wine.

I would suggest that Bradbury deserves to rest in peace now, but I suspect that he himself would inject something unsettling into this final chapter of his story if it were his to tell. With the body gone, his work will continue to sing the mind electric.

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