I have to confess that I’ve just begun reading Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I wanted to have finished this by today, but life distracted me from that quest.
I’ve enjoyed reading many Bradbury short stories in my life, but probably haven’t read enough of his books. The one book that I do love is Zen and the Art of Writing, which is one of my favorite books on writing, and I really need to re-read it again.
Today, I want to actually quote from the Introduction to the version of Fahrenheit 451 that I am still reading. The Introduction is written by Neil Gaiman and is inspiring in and of itself. Here’s an excerpt from it, that also sums up the wondrous qualities of Ray Bradbury’s writing:
Ideas — written ideas — are special. They are the way we transmit our stories and our thoughts from one generation to the next. If we lose them, we lose our shared identity. And fiction gives us empathy: it puts us inside the minds of other people, gives us the gift of seeing the world through their eyes. Fiction is a lie that tells us true things, over and over.
I knew Ray Bradbury for the last thirty years of his life, and I was so lucky. He was funny and gentle and always (even at the ed, when he was so old he was blind and wheelchair-bound, even then) enthusiastic. He cared, completely and utterly, about things. He cared about toys and childhood and films. He cared about books. He cared about stories.
This is a book about caring for things. It’s a love letter to books, but I think, just as much, it’s a love letter to people, and a love letter to the world of Waukegan, Illinois, in the 1920’s, the world in which Ray Bradbury had grown up and which he immortalized as Green Town in his book of childhood, Dandelion Wine.
While I am still reading Fahrenheit 451, I am thinking about my considerations for this week about keeping heat in balance.
Ray Bradbury was a man whose heat lit up our world. His passion for the world he knew and the world he would never know of the future is a gift for those of us who enjoy speculative fiction.
Here is a wonderful video of Bradbury with some great words of wisdom about writing:
Do you have a favorite Ray Bradbury story or book?