What the world needs now

Reading the empty spaces

Friends.

There is some majorly wacked-out stuff going down all over the globe these days.

From the most horrific, to the most mundane, it’s bizarro world out there.

I’m not really sure what to think of it all.

However, of one thing I am sure.

This morning I learned that Ray Bradbury has died. He was 91.

And I am devastated.

In terms of books, I am not one to mince words.

If I like an author, I will make it known. If I don’t like an author, well, I won’t waste my time.

And I love Bradbury.

(I refuse to use this verb in past tense. Just because he died doesn’t mean I am magically going to stop celebrating his works.)

I love him.

His writings are of such majesty that they brings tears to my eyes, and gooseflesh to my arms, and warmth to my cheeks.

They bring me pain and strength and desire and need – to my head, to my hands, to my heart, to my feet.

I’ll never forget the first time I read Fahrenheit 451.

I was in grade eleven and I had just finished reading Catcher in the Rye. Reading these two books back-to-back exploded my brain so hard it’s amazing that I managed to speak in complete sentences for the remainder of the year.

I wanted to know more.

I wanted to know everything.

I re-read 451 for the first time in the summer of 2007. This time around I took it slowly, reading each chapter and then pausing – taking time to digest the words, the ideas, dissect my growing feeling of unease, of understanding how this fictional world was so alike the one I inhabited – flesh, bones, blood, mind, and heart.

It unnerved me.

And I wanted to know more.

I wanted to know everything.

After this, I read The Martian Chronicles. Sandwiched in between Asimov’s I Robot series and Heinlein’s The Moon is a Dark Mistress, I learned about the Earthmen, and Those Summer Nights; The Settlers and The Green Morning.

“Ylla” (like so many of the book’s other stories) moved me in such a way that I have a hard time communicating them through my typed words.

Everything seems too silly, too trite.

He made a world that I wanted to visit. Wanted to dream about.

All of his worlds – I wanted to know them.

Know everything.

My favourite Bradbury work is Something Wicked This Way Comes.

This book is probably the most terrifying, most beautiful book I have ever read.

Will ever read.

Often times, when I am feeling overwhelmed, or lost, I will pick up Mr. M’s and my dog eared copy and re-read the following passage:

“Why love the woman who is your wife? Her nose breathes in the air of a world that I know; therefore I love that nose. Her ears hear music I might sing half the night through; therefore I love her ears. Her eyes delight in seasons of the land; and so I love those eyes. Her tongue knows quince, peach, chokeberry, mint and lime; I love to hear it speaking. Because her flesh knows heat, cold, affliction, I know fire, snow, and pain. Shared and once again shared experience.”

I will think about good and evil.

About youth.

About age.

I will think about the American Dream, and its evolution. I construct a world that I imagine Bradbury inhabited as he created his work. I deconstruct the world I inhabit when I read his work.

His books make me nostalgic for a time and place I have never known.

For a time and place I will never know.

I have nothing in common with Charles Holloway, and yet I feel for him. I yearn for him.

I am him.

If you have never had the chance, please, take the time and read this book. It is magic.

Bradbury was a literary giant, unmatched by most, in a league of few.

I sincerely hope that individuals, young and old alike will continue to read his works.

Lest we all become firemen.

Lest we all become consumed by fire.

13 thoughts on “Reading the empty spaces

  1. I just heard this news and also am shocked and sad to hear it. Really want to go read dandelion wine right now

  2. I read his short story “All Summer in a Day” when I was in sixth grade and I don’t think I’ve ever been that devastated by a short story. Then I read 451 and marveled at his gorgeous full-page metaphors. A loss.

  3. I kind of hate to admit that I’ve never read any of his books and now I feel like I NEED to go out and pick up Fahrenheit 451. Thanks for the reading tips – love your passion and thoughts on this – gets everyone else inspired. :)

  4. effing ay! wotta me(s)mory you have. i read f-451 many years ago, i was prob’ly jes’ a teenager and i still remember much of it. i think. something wicked was truly memorable. marshmallow chronicles: interesting. but .. did you research or do you axually remember all those quotes? (i hadda, well, he wasn’t/isn’t “mine” but a regional (colorawdough mtns) word-monger also expired recently: ed quillen. HE WAS (is) YOUNGER ‘N ME! whew …

    1. I remember the names of the stories and know much of the quote off my heart, but I definitely looked up the entire thing to put it in the post. I have a pretty crazy memory for stuff like that!

      I will check out Quillen!

  5. This is a lovely post. Very powerful.

    I think that’s the mark of a great author or book, that it leaves you wanting to know more and more, and eventually everything. Knowledge = good stuff. Being drawn to find knowledge yourself from a book = perfection.

  6. “The written word can change the world.” Damn right sistah! I feel weird that Ray Bradbury died and I didn’t know, as if the world should have flown up into chaos and settled back in a different pattern without him. He is such an honest and unpretentious writer, yet the poetry of his prose is breathtaking. I remember reading ‘Fahrehnheit 451’ when I was about ten and being terrified by the Mechanical Hound; it still gives me the shivers reading it thirty-seven years later! So much more I can’t begin to describe – there really aren’t the words to do him justice. I think I’ll spend the rest of this year re-reading him instead. It’ll do my own work the world of good!

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