Bradbury’s Legacy

Ray Bradbury was the writer who allowed me to escape the realities of childhood and explore uncharted parts of my imagination.  I have read many authors, but he was the only one who challenged me to turn the page.  I would try to predict the next scene, and he would mess with me every time.  It was almost like he wrote his prose to lead the reader into a mental dead end, and when the page was turned, he created a “Wow!”  I would imagine him sitting in the shadows of my bedroom, watching me read.  I would turn the page, and my mind would picture the great author, arms crossed, smiling and smirking, leading me on.

The short stories were the mind-benders, the gems of fiction that transformed me from childhood, but would never let me leave.  He believed, and strongly, that childhood is the place where imagination resides, and the regrettable aspect of adulthood is that we leave that special place.  I don’t believe he ever left.  He kept all of the toys of youth in his basement, visiting them from time to time, and he was able to return to that world of imagination that adults leave behind.  Adulthood was the mind-killer for Ray Bradbury, and he was right.

I want to tell stories that people will read, and at the end of every story, I want them to crave the next one.  Bradbury taught me that.  At the beginning of his short stories, some no longer than five pages, I began a journey that transformed me.  By the end, I was different.  I emerged from the experience with a new outlook, a maturity.  Sometimes, he would take me to another planet.  Other times, my journey to another planet taught me a lesson about earth.  A simple visit to an abandoned pier and a jukebox would take me to a fantasy world that no mind had imagined, and he did it with simple words, believable experiences, and a twist.

The twist was what intrigued me.  I would try to predict what would come next.  He would lead me down that well-traveled road of thought, and when the page was turned, I was on a different road.   The place the story took me, the journey of my mind, was my entertainment.  Growing up in the Midwest with the dismal grey of winter caused my young mind to leap to places no kid had gone before. It was an escape from reality, but it transformed my mind to a place that a writer should be.  I thank him for that.

He is gone, but his stories survive.

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