I just want to take a moment to offer my own words of condolence and sorrow over the passing of Ray Bradbury. Though the man might have been 91, his death has still come as a bit of a shock.
I first discovered Mr. Bradbury’s work back when I was a disillusioned 17-year-old. Like all annoying wankers, I thought I was being clever by seeking out those pieces of literature my friends all turned their noses up at. I wasn’t, but I only know that now through hindsight. It was around that time I read CLOCKWORK ORANGE and THE MASTER AND THE MARGARITA. And along with these, I picked up a little novel called FAHRENHEIT 451.
It doesn’t take a genius to know how brilliant the book is – which is possibly why it took me half-a-dozen attempts to get into it!
I didn’t get it. The symbolism and political satire were lost on me. I remember reading sentences half-a-dozen times before the images clicked in my head. It was one of the most frustrating reading experiences of my life… and one of the best. I read it once, I read it again. And again. And every time I turned a page I discovered something new. I found something I’d missed on previous reads. Or I’d reinterpret a scenario or even a piece of dialogue, thus seeing the whole plot in a different light. Such a simple book was so multi-layered that when I look back I can – just about – forgive myself for struggling for so long. Thinking back, I think I struggled because I couldn’t pin down the actual interpretation that made sense for my mood and age at the time. But as well as forgiving myself for being so stupid, I also congratulate myself for persevering because by doing so I enriched my life.
Since then I’ve only read one other of Mr. Bradbury’s novels: SOMETHING THIS WICKED THIS WAY COMES. Nothing to do with his work; my head and influences forced me towards another direction. But with the great man’s passing, I can feel a certain book burning its way through my TBR pile, demanding to read once again.
So rest easy, Mr. Ray Bradbury. My appreciation will never compare with anyone else’s, but then, we could say the same about your work.