Rest in Peace, Ray Bradbury
I owe my poet's soul to Ray Bradbury as much or more than any other writer. I still remember how powerful Dandelion Wine was at nine years old.
The following recollection isn't mine; it's from an anonymous poster on a literature board. But I'd hate to let it go forgotten.
I grew up about a block away from the library across from L.A. High, where Bradbury went to school. It is the library mentioned in >>2698556.
Bradbury came to do a public lecture in the library. The librarians cleared out one of the wings and set up some folding chairs and a little podium with a microphone. The time came, and out of all of the seats set up, probably a dozen were filled. While he spoke about how important this library was to him and his development as a writer, I could see the sadness in his eyes. One of the great literary minds of our era, not even able to fill up half of a wing of a tiny public library. After he finished, I came up to him with my little 15 year old heart beating through my little 15 year old chest, and told him how Fahrenheit 451 made me want to write, how it made me want to read every book I could, how it inspired me to not become "an anonymous member of the ignorant mob," about how heavily used and damaged my copy of The Martian Chronicles was, about how I read more and more and more and couldn't stop.
He put his hand on my shoulder, and told me, "One day, I will die. My friends and family and fellow writers will die. It's up to your generation to keep books alive and well."
I don't even know how to follow that. I'm crying right now, so I'm going to get drunk and read that piece by him that was in the last New Yorker.