A World Bankrupted of Ten Million Fine Tales

So like, 7 minutes ago, I found out Ray Bradbury died this morning, at the admittedly not-too-tragic age of 91.

I don’t even know what to think, what to say. The only fiction of his I ever read was Fahrenheit 451, and that hardly seems enough for me to call myself a fan.

I suppose I wasn’t truly a fanatic of his work, but I read Zen in the art of Writing, a collection of his articles and essays. To my mind, when a great writer weaves a passionate web of words about their life’s work, it bares many shades of their soul, shades you might not glimpse in their other stories.

In short, I read enough to feel I knew the man; enough that my eyes pricked with tears, and my heart with loss. In case you never read any of it, and in case you did and want to remember, here are some flashcard-flicker-glimpses of what the world lost today:

“You must write every single day of your life… You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads… may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”

“I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.”

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”

“The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us.”

“There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches.”
And I end with a quote from Fahrenheit 451:

“And when he died, I suddenly realized I wasn’t crying for him at all, but for the things he did. I cried because he would never do them again, he would never carve another piece of wood or help us raise doves and pigeons in the backyard or play the violin the way he did, or tell us jokes the way he did. He was part of us and when he died, all the actions stopped dead and there was no one to do them the way he did. He was individual. He was an important man. I’ve never gotten over his death. Often I think what wonderful carvings never came to birth because he died. How many jokes are missing from the world, and how many homing pigeons untouched by his hands? He shaped the world. He did things to the world. The world was bankrupted of ten million fine actions the night he passed on.”

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3 comments

  1. I don’t believe I’ve yet read anything of Bradbury’s, but what you’ve quoted of him certainly makes him sound like a very cool guy. I’m betting he’ll be missed.

    1. I think I’d love anyone who understands the perfume of pages. It’s a weakness of mine. And for heaven’s sake, if you’re going to tell me to stay drunk on writing and wear books like hats upon my crazy head, I’m going to adore you!

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