Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The one and only Ray Bradbury

Happy Halloween!

In just a couple of hours, Grand Master of Science Fiction (some nifty title, eh?) Ray Bradbury will be joining us for a special signing of his classic novel, The Halloween Tree. In honor of the event, I have, er, borrowed a brief questionnaire from today's Shelf Awareness that Mr. Bradbury kindly answered:

The author of dozens of books, hundreds of short stories, many screenplays, teleplays, stage scripts, poems and essays, Ray Bradbury is one of the most celebrated writers of our time. Among his best known works are Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Dandelion Wine and Something Wicked This Way Comes. Bradbury's most recent book, Now and Forever, was published weeks after his 87th birthday. He has been honored with a National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, a National Medal of the Arts and a Pulitzer Prize Special Citation. He lives in Los Angeles.

On your nightstand now:
See next answer.

Favorite book when you were a child:
Actually, there were two: Tarzan of the Apes and Thuvia, Maid of Mars. Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote both and they influenced me tremendously between the ages of nine and twelve. They both sit on my nightstand now.

Your top five authors:
Edgar Rice Burroughs, H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, William Shakespeare and Alexander Pope.

Book you've faked reading:
Why would I ever fake reading a book? Books are meant to be read.

Book you are an evangelist for:
A Christmas Carol
by Charles Dickens. I've read it many times and seen many film adaptations of it. This book helped me as a writer, and I wrote The Halloween Tree, in a way, as my own Christmas Carol.

Book you've bought for the cover:
I don't buy books for their covers. A nice cover is fine, but it's what inside that counts.

Books that changed your life:
All the books of H. G. Wells, which helped me care about the future. Also because books like The Invisible Man are paranoid, and all 15-year-old boys are paranoid. That's when they discover what death means; they take a stand against death and Mr. Wells helped a 15-year-old boy do that.

Favorite line from a book:
"He was born with a gift of laughter and the sense that the world was mad." This is the opening line of Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Tender Is the Night
by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I consider it to be the greatest American novel of the last 75 years. My fun comes from buying a new copy of the book and walking across Paris, starting in the morning at the Eiffel Tower, reading and walking all day, stopping for a coffee or an aperitif, and finishing the book out in front of Notre Dame at sunset.


At 10:06 AM, Anonymous Jim Leonard said...

Years ago I was privileged to hear Mr. Bradbury speak at the Santa Monica Library. He read a poem of his titled "I Was the Last, The Very Last". It describes the experience of a nine-year-old who was present when Lincoln's tomb was opened. Mr. Bradbury told us it was based on a conversation he'd had with a man who had that experience - who accompanied his father, part of a commission to verify the body of Lincoln, undisturbed, in his grave.

A couple of years ago, I took my young son to UCLA's book fair. We found Mr. Bradbury signing his latest book among a crowd of admirers. I lifted my son up on my shoulders and pointed out the author. I told him to remember having seen this famous author when he grew up. Perhaps he might be the last, the very last to have actually seen Ray Bradbury.

I grew up with the tingling titles of Ray Bradury's books: "Something Wicked This Way Comes", "The Martian Chronicles", "I Sing the Body Electric!" "Dandelion Wine", and many others, provoking my imagination. I've had to work harder lately to find copies of some of his out-of-print poetry collections, but it's worth it. I recommend them to Bradbury fans.

Thanks for the interview.


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