I originally had picked Middlemarch by George Eliot to use for this entry. I was about 1/5 of the way through it on June 6th, when I happened to see that Ray Bradbury, at the age of 91 had passed away.
Instead of calling, texting, or emailing Dave, I did what any self respecting 2012 friend does. I posted on my fb wall (timeline? what are we supposed to call it now?) about it, and that I’d be reading 451 for this entry instead. Dave and I, being good 2012 friends, proceeded to have the entire conversation in regards to the entry right there on the wall/timeline. Writing about this now, I find it oddly fitting that we did do that for Fahrenheit 451.
451 was listed by Alice Hoffman as her #2 book in The Top Ten. On a weird note, I actually began listening to one of Hoffman’s books tonight while doing the dishes.
Once again, 451 (I am shortening it to this from here on, as I can sometimes get a little lazy about words like Fahrenheit), was a book I had never read. Again, when people brought it up as a book they had read or that it was one of the greats etc, I would paste that “Oh of course I’m literate, I always have a book in my hand” look on my face while inside I would berate myself for not reading it yet. As Dave has already read 451, I would have gotten to it, probably fairly soon to push off reading books that I don’t feel quite like I do about My Antonia (see here for a full explanation of the Willa Cather Impasse from Dave’s point of view) but don’t particularly feel like reading.
By the way, I apologize for giving all this backstory, but I find for me, the experience behind the reading interesting, so I include it all for you to enjoy (suffer) through. Also, unlike Dave, I don’t have a personal blog at this moment so maybe I’m secretly trying to pretend I do. Okay, back to our program.
I am going to be breaking Bradbury and Fahrenheit up into 3 blog posts, as I have become quite wordy on the whole thing, and I feel that to do Bradbury justice I _need_ to be lengthy for a memorial and also because of the comparisons between Bradbury’s “predictions” in 451 and the reality of today, to do them justice, I need three blog posts. (sorry Dave for not discussing this with you previously). Today’s post will be about Bradbury himself. Tomorrow’s post will be about the plot line and my thoughts on said plot line. Saturday’s post will be about the influence I can see of 451 on current literature today (especially in YA literature) and items Bradbury talked about in 451 that have probably an even stronger eerie resonance than they did even ten years ago. I also will put in quotations where these things are described.
For information on Bradbury, I went straight to raybradbury.com, as that seemed the most likely place to receive information. Bradbury, as mentioned above, was 91. The staggering thing for me, isn’t necessarily his age, as I come from a family of long lifers and married a man from a family of long lifers, but that he was writing FOR SEVENTY YEARS. It’s weird to see publication dates for him from the forties. I’m not entirely sure why that bent my mind out of shape, other than maybe because it shows someone that figured out early on what made them tick, started doing it and NEVER STOPPED. Quoting straight from raybradbury.com;
“In 2005, Bradbury published a book of essays titled Bradbury Speaks, in which he wrote: In my later years I have looked in the mirror each day and found a happy person staring back. Occasionally I wonder why I can be so happy. The answer is that every day of my life I’ve worked only for myself and for the joy that comes from writing and creating. The image in my mirror is not optimistic, but the result of optimal behavior. ”
I just think that holds so true for anyone that finds the one thing that does it for them and figures out a way to live that way. Bradbury has won numerous awards, published over fifty books, and multitudes of short stories, but for me, the thing that makes me….proud? happy? that a man like him lived on this earth is what he said above.
It’s sad when someone who has worked their way into our heads, into our culture and through that into our hearts dies. I find this death more impacting to me than Michael Jackson. Call me odd.
Coming up tomorrow! Discussion of 451’s plot and my opinions on it.