Just Above Sunset
September 4, 2005 - Ray Bradbury

Home | Question Time | Something Is Up | Connecting Dots | Stay Away | Overload | Our Man in Paris | WLJ Weekly | Book Wrangler | Cobras | The Edge of the Pacific | The Surreal Beach | On Location | Botanicals | Quotes

Out here on Monday, August 22, long-time Long Beach resident and author, Ray Bradbury, who last year won the National Medal of Arts, turned eighty-five.  See Bob Patterson's Book Wrangler from July 2004 regarding Bradbury, and a photo here from a month earlier.  You might recall that least summer, Bradbury – the author of the novel/play/screenplay "Fahrenheit 451" - was going after Michael Moore about the "Fahrenheit 911" title.  He was angry.  He said Moore stole his title, and he didn't like his title being used in political ways.  Bradbury did admit his novel "Something Wicked This Way Comes" quotes in its own title a line from Shakespeare (Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 1) but says that was sort of in public domain – or at least widely used and common speech.  Bradbury was saying he would sue anyone who uses the word Fahrenheit followed by any numeric for copyright infringement and major damages.


Well, that went nowhere.  Bradbury didn't sue; he only demanded an apology.  He may have gotten one.  The story went away.


But why are they picking on the old guy around his birthday this year?


Note this:


Ray Bradbury  
The pulp god lives…
Bryan Curtis, SLATE.COM,
Posted Thursday, Sept. 1, 2005, at 3:06 PM PT 


The opening?


Ray Bradbury has been dusted with so much glory lately that it's high time his reputation got a good sullying.  A generous biography published in April prompted a round of tributes to Bradbury as a "literary icon" (the Los Angeles Times) and the sci-fi author of his generation "who could really write" (the New York Times).  Last November, he received the National Medal of Arts at the White House.  His novel Fahrenheit 451 remains a staple of middle-school English classes.  So now that Bradbury has officially been accepted into the halls of Literature, can we lesser life forms please have him back?  To these eyes, many of Bradbury's most garishly "literary" achievements are his least impressive.  When the McCarthyite gloom of Fahrenheit 451 fades, it's the pulpy, childlike terrors that stick.  Bradbury nudging characters into his ingenious hells; Bradbury the fabulist of the Space Age (morals in 10 pages or less!); Bradbury the dinosaur nut who confessed an urge to "run and live" among giant reptiles.  Cut the lights and cue the theremin.  Ray Bradbury belongs to pulp.


The rest is a discussing of his "pulp" writing, with the idea that it is far better than "serious" stuff.


And there's this:


It would be a profound understatement to call Bradbury a technophobe. He is a technocrank - eager to share his unhappiness about inventions new and old. For sci-fi adherents, this has made Bradbury into something of a strange apostle.  In years past, Bradbury has fulminated against automobiles, telephones, and TV sets; more recent targets include ATMs, the Internet, and personal computers.  ("A computer is a typewriter," he told Salon in 2001. "I have two typewriters, I don't need another one.")  And yet, at the same instant, Bradbury is an exuberant fan of NASA and has proclaimed more than once that mankind should start colonizing Mars.  There is a strange disconnect within a man who would live on the Red Planet but insist on in-person banking.


Well, Bradbury is an odd fellow.  I forgive him all for Dandelion Wine - small town America - summer and adventures in the neighborhood - odd but compelling domestic conflicts.  The politics here are the politics of nostalgia - Harding in the White House and life-changing adventures just outside your front door in the friendly sunshine.  It's fine.  But you can click and read the Curtis item for a taste of the pulp stuff.


Here's a photo from Bob Patterson - of Bradbury around his eighty-fifth birthday.   "Larry Engright gets a book autographed by Ray Bradbury in Los Angeles, recently."

Ray Bradbury at 85





Just Above Sunset photojournalist Phillip Raines - see the links in the left column of the homepage - shares a birthday with Bradbury.  Only the day, not the year. 


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
for the purpose of illustration and commentary,
as permitted by the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law. 
See the Details page for the relevant citation.

This issue updated and published on...

Paris readers add nine hours....