Saturday, 22 August 2009

THE ILLUSTRATED MAN

Happy 89th Birthday
to
RAY BRADBURY


Today is a special day for all lovers of fantasy and science fiction literature - the last birthday in the eighth decade of arguably the greatest living master of the genre.

Ray Bradbury once wrote a book of stories entitled The Illustrated Man, centered on a character whose body was tattooed with extraordinary images capable of evoking waking dreams and nightmares.

Bradbury is the illustrated man: his vivid - sometimes feverish - imagination scribbled over with visual tales that transport us into worlds inhabited by freaks, misfits, machines, monsters, spacemen and dinosaurs as well as by ordinary, everyday folk - from children to old people - whose lives are transformed by extraordinary encounters or unexpected discoveries.

I have just read Ray's latest collection of stories, We'll Always Have Paris, and it is exciting and inspiring to find that, almost in his 90th year, the Master is still spinning yarns and telling tales.

But if you are coming to this unique writer for the first time, then I'd say start with one of the early story collections - The Golden Apples of the Sun is one of my favourites - or the novels Something Wicked This Way Comes or Fahrenheit 451 about which Ray talks in this fascinating film profile...



You can discover more about my thoughts on Ray Bradbury in my profile of him The Bradbury Machine and in my essays on his books The Golden Apples of the Sun, Something Wicked This Way Comes and The Halloween Tree.



8 comments:

Matt said...

I was lucky enough to meet him once, back in 1981 at a book signing in Santa Monica at a bookshop called A Change of Hobbit. We was a very nice man, and happy to chat with all of us.

Phil said...

Brian, the video clip you posted is good, but there's an even better one that shows Ray as he is today, and really captures his character and spirit. It was made for the US "Big Read" project last year, and can be viewed here:

http://www.neabigread.org/books/fahrenheit451/filmguide.php

(There are two versions, a 7-minuter and a 22-minuter. They are both excellent.)

In reply to Matt: Bradbury loves bookshops (almost as much as he loves libraries). So much so that he holds his birthday party in a bookshop. That's where he will be today.

Shameless plug department: Bradbury fans, please make your way to my website and blog at www.bradburymedia.co.uk !

'EXPERST': Insert funny definition about inadequate self-declared experts here.

Boll Weavil said...

One of the greats ! The further we go on in time, the more we go back to his work.His writing fifty years ago was full of what would happen and where society was leading - state control,people watching trash telly, walking around with entertainment in their ears oblivious to the problems about them and abusing their environment. Alongside this, his ability to reach back into his own past and remember vividly the dreams of the child made his characters totally believable and endlessly endearing. Perception and imagination in one ! His own life as magical as one of his books.Truly one of the very top drawer of writers in any genre.

Brian Sibley said...

MATT - I have been lucky enough to call Ray Bradbury a friend for over 30 year. He needs to live forever (or at least until I die) to keep me truly happy!

PHIL - Thanks for the YouTube link and for telling people about your excellent website and blog - which I should have done (though there is a link to it on my sidebar!) and thanks, too, for your devoted (and utterly justified) proselytizing of the Bradbury cause!

BOLL WEAVIL - Bravo! Very well said. If there were no other reason for you and I to be friends, it would be our mutual admiration and affection for dear Uncle Ray.

Boll Weavil said...

There are many more reasons Mr B - a mutual love of Dickens and Lewis being the two that immediately spring to mind.However, thinking of Ray,one of your greatest interviews (and one that is a favourite of mine) was the informal chat with him that took place against a back drop of screams from a nearby theme park, twenty years ago as he gave up the secrets that had gone into creating some of his most enduring stories. If any Bradbury fans have not heard that, they should do so immediately !

hablin : a state of poignancy evoked by recalling a favourite memory from many years previously whilst lying down in a quiet room on a hot day in the middle of summer.

Brian Sibley said...

Thanks, BOLL: yes, that was a special chat (with the Disneyland guests screaming their way around Big Thunder Mountain in the background); would that I had the means to put some of these old interviews (which are unlikely to exist even in the BBC archive now) on line. Maybe I should work on it...

Phil said...

Ray's 89th birthday party in photos:

http://tinyurl.com/m3fmto

boinky said...

linked...