Toward the end of last year I was invited to write a biography and a critical context entry about Ray Bradbury for inclusion in Salem Press’s Critical Insights: Ray Bradbury. The book has been published and I received my author’s copy last week, just in time for the holidays. It’s a lot of work to research and write these kind of articles, but it’s always a pleasure to see them in print and to see what kind of other articles there are in the book.
Last summer my husband and I attended the Maine Astronomy Retreat for the first time. One day we left camp and drove to Belfast, Maine, and spent the afternoon strolling around. I saw a paperback copy of The Martian Chronicles in the window of an independent bookstore, and I was drawn to it, but in the end I didn’t buy it. About a month after vacation I received an email about this book project and all I could think was “Why didn’t I buy that book when I was on vacation?”
Odd things like that seem to happen to me fairly often. I suppose I could claim to have had an intuition about the book, but I think I was drawn to it because I’ve been thinking about rereading some of the books I read as a teenager, and The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451 were both on that reread list. I read both while working on the articles, and in fact I devoured them each in a day or two, staying up way too late because I just could not put the books down. I don’t remember that fascination the first time I read the books, and in fact I found The Martian Chronicles a bit hard because I’m more of a novel reader and less of a short-story reader. I always wanted to stay with Bradbury’s characters longer than he did!
My essays are a short biography, “Ray Douglas Bradbury,” and a longer piece, “Big Brother, Little Sister: Ray Bradbury, Social Pressure, and the Challenges to Free Speech.” You can work out from the title what it’s about, so I won’t go into details here. But, I would recommend reading Bradbury’s work, especially if you’ve only seen the movies. His word choices, the characters, the pacing of the stories — those are part and parcel of the atmosphere he brought to the worlds he created. You won’t go wrong spending an evening, or a few days, immersed in his work.