I’ve had a quiet love affair with Ray Bradbury for some time now. I actually think I love the man more than his books—or is it that I love his books because I adore the man? What’s odd is the fact that I don’t really like science fiction. I mean, Star Trek Next Generation is fine, but anything else … not so much. But Dandelion Wine and Martian Chronicles hooked me, and his short story “The Smile” reeled me in. I’m currently reading Zen in the Art of Writing which shines with typical Bradbury enthusiasm about his craft.
A few years ago I stumbled upon a few (surreptitious, I’m sure) cell phone videos of Bradbury on YouTube—he was a frequent speaker at Comic Con and on college campuses even in his last years–and I was over the moon all over again: a spunky, life-loving, sometimes profane old guy who was a champion of the power of the written word.
I show this National Endowment for the Arts video to my high school students every year, hoping against hope that they, too, will fall in love. And they do find him endearing–because who can’t resist a cute old man who says to the film crew, “I want a close up of the cat, now,” (did you also notice the canary yellow cat tie?) and (lover that he is) re-reads Tender is the Night every time he visits Paris?
Bradbury died in 2012; his last appearance at Comic Con was only two years before. By all accounts he was frail and tired—but he was with his people, passionate to the end. So “the things that you do should be things that you love–things that you love should be things that you do.” I’ll try, Mr. Bradbury. I’ll try.