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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Golden Apples, Giant Mushrooms, and the great Bradbury

I don't typically write pieces in honor of individuals, but this week, we have lost a really great American short story writer, whose own quietly explosive output I have held in admiration for close to a half century. As I'm sure you've read, Ray Bradbury died this week, at the pleasantly advanced age of 91.

Now, my own memories of that man go back to a time when my own brother, Steve, and my father had a subscription to a Science Fiction journal, called Analog Magazine. Now, this was in India, where such things were rare, indeed. Anyway, I remember them talking of a writer named Ray Bradbury, and some of the magnificent stuff he was writing. Anyway, I filed that little tidbit somewhere in the dusty confines of my mind. But then, when we got back to the States, I happened upon a short story, which, if I recall correctly, wasn't even in a Sci Fi collection, but was written by this same Ray Bradbury, and was named 'Boys, Grow Giant Mushrooms in Your Basement!' The story was fanciful enough, and told of aliens who would take over the bodies of earthlings, by having them ingest themselves, and who were cleverly disguised as giant mushrooms,and advertised in the back pages of journals such as Boys' Life, and then propagated themselves in this manner. There was just something about that story, and I could just imagine the writer, laughing behind his typewriter. Needless to say, I was smitten.

Now some years later, I happened upon a truly remarkable collection of short stories, by Mr. Bradbury, called Golden Apples of the Sun, which had the most memorable cover, all in gold and black, with a skull, a snake, and a huge golden apple - there was absolutely no doubt, I had to have that book. But the most memorable short story in that collection was a forlorn tale of a sea monster in love with a foghorn, which it could hear but not see. In any event, it was his incredible flights of fancy which stirred my imagination then, and through the years. The variety, the intensity, and the underlying humanity of that creative genius was what still captured my spirit.

And now, I am saddened by the loss of this man, but I am encouraged by one little thing - that my son, Ben, now has among his things, a collection of short stories, which Ray Bradbury signed. It was signed in Borders Book Store, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which does represent the passing into obscurity of yet another purveyor of good books. Farenheit 451, indeed!

1 comment:

  1. I am less familiar with Bradbury's works than I would like to be - though not completely ignorant - but an admirer of his imagination and dedication all the same. Sad to lose another great American writer when we have so very few of them in supply.

    But what a great book to have possession of!