Cultural Revolutions

Ray Bradbury, R.I.P.

On June 5, we lost not only one of our finest writers but a true American storyteller and one of the last of the book people.  For Ray Bradbury, who passed away at the age of 91, was, like the remnant that Montag joins at the end of Fahrenheit 451, a book person, a walking book who retained and recited the story of an older America that can be carried on in memory only by those who emulate the master.

As a boy, Ray Bradbury began “time traveling” (as Douglas Spaulding called it in Dandelion Wine), committing to memory the stories told by his grandfather on warm summer evenings in his native Waukegan, Illinois, a town he never really left, reproduced as “Green Town” in his stories.  Young Ray memorized his favorite fantasy stories as well, reciting them to all who would listen, later dismissing the notion that he was a science-fiction writer, calling himself a spinner of fables, fantasy, and myth.  Bradbury was less an author than a bard, a storyteller like an ancient poet, his books oral history in mythic form.  And the myths he spun were truer than the literal truth, as all myths worthy of the name are.  His Green Town was quintessentially American, capturing something about that America and her people that could not be encapsulated in formal history.  The Waukegan of memory was transformed into the Green Town of fantasy (Dark...

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