My heart truly hurts knowing that my favorite writer, Ray Bradbury, died this morning. I first read his short stories back in 5th and 6th grade (and still own those copies of the books I read) and would say it’s not an exaggeration that I learned much about the world through them. His use of figurative language – metaphors, similes, personification, idioms, etc. – is ultimately what draws me to his books. He describes things in a way that few others can.
As I’ve told my students for years: When Bradbury describes running barefoot in a meadow through the dew-covered clover at sunrise, I can see it, feel it, taste it, touch it, hear it. His writing engages all the senses, forcing you to participate whether you want to or not.
For all his excellent works, Dandelion Wine is still my favorite. It’s an annual read for me, usually sometime during spring or early summer. I first read it as a junior higher, about the same age as his protagonist, Douglas, who has several mind-blowing “coming-of-age” experiences and realizations about life, the human condition, and the people around him. It guided me through many of those same realizations, and re-reading it takes me back to that time and those sensations.
Bradbury frequently told the story of meeting Mr. Electrico at a carnival that came through town when he was a youngster. The magician sat in his electric chair, sword in hand, and, “when the electricity surged through his body he raised a sword and knighted all the kids sitting in the front row below his platform. I had been to see Mr. Electrico the night before. When he reached me, he pointed his sword at my head and touched my brow. The electricity rushed down the sword, inside my skull, made my hair stand up and sparks fly out of my ears. He then shouted at me, ‘Live forever!’” (from an interview with Ray Bradbury, December 2001)
As sad as I am at his passing, knowing that, through his writing, he will indeed “Live forever!” gives me strange comfort.
The Stories of Ray Bradbury
Something Wicked This Way Comes