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Yesterday, in my Wednesday Evening Adult Writers Circle, I used the first line from Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 as a tribute to the now late, always great science fiction author. Anna Cunningham wrote such a moving piece to the prompt (in 15 minutes, no less), that we asked her if we could publish it on the TWC blog. We’re delighted she agreed. – Michelle Cameron
“It was a pleasure to burn,” he wrote, I know, although I didn’t read that one. He’s been on my mind lately. Not too long ago I took out his biography from the Hillsborough Library. And Dandelion Wine. He said that he’d hedged his bets, writing short stories instead of novels. I rented Moby Dick on Netflix in March because he’d written the screenplay. It turned out to be nearly unwatchable.
But there are writers whose work forms you and he was one of them. I Sing The Body Electric seemed to have fallen from the sky into my 11 year-old hands. “The stars, one by one, were going out.” Some lines you can’t forget.
I copied out his breakthrough short story, “The Lake,” in January. I was going to do what he did, a short story every week. “Throw it up in the morning, clean it up in the afternoon,” he said.
When we moved to South Pasadena, up by the library, was an adobe building with a large banner on it, proclaiming that Fahrenheit 451 would be performed there that weekend. In the five years we were there, that banner never came down. He loved theater and apparently endowed this particular little group with his works. We never went in. It seemed like one of those places where you’d be the only two patrons.
I loved his stories, but reading his biography was probably not a great idea. He became too human. The biographer was not a great writer, or very tactful, and included his affairs and bad behavior and strange family life. The writing is the thing.
He lived to be 91, in a wheelchair, diabetic, blind – all that ice cream he liked to eat in the closet hadn’t done him any favors. But he did me several.