Any sort of tribute feels inept, inadequate. How do you build a monument to a dream? How do you say thanks to a man you never met that filled your mind with so much wonder?
I’ve seen little nods all over the internet today. People quoting Mr. Bradbury. And I realise that he is precious to more people than I may have understood at first. However, I feel possessive. It took me so long to find his works. But I attacked them a ferocity that would have led you to believe I’d never read before.
His stories were, for me, like water in a desert.
A former friend had me read The Martian Chronicles. Then I moved on to Dandelion Wine and eventually I found other collections of short stories. And I blogged about all of them.
Here was a man who knew my heart. He expressed his love for the public library and he was tenacious about stopping censorship and allowing fiction to have its voice in the world. He understood the role authors played, through their stories, in shaping the world to be a better place. And he was full of wonder.
Ninety-one years is nothing to scoff at. That is a long, wonderful life. That is presence during many years of human history and oh what a century it was.
I feel profoundly sad. Today I walked into the library and his books were still there (I breathed a sigh of relief). I felt like shouting to everyone in there, “This amazing man is gone! How are you all containing yourselves?” That would have been far too melodramatic of me. Instead I wrote a note. My hope is that some teenager with nothing better to do (my library is next to a local high school, they loiter there often) will stumble through the stacks and see the out of place strip of paper. I mentioned his death and in a few lines tried to explain his importance to me. I hope they read his words.
One of my favourite quotes from Mr. Bradbury is this: “I didn’t make it to college, so the library became my meeting place with people like G.K. Chesterton and Shaw and the rest of that fabulous group who inhabited the stacks. My dream was to one day walk into the library and see one of my books leaning against one of theirs.I never was jealous of my heroes, nor did I envy them, I only wanted to trot along as lapdog to their fame.” (emphasis added).
This man spoke to my heart. Awakened in me a writer’s soul. I’ve shared the sentiment of that quote ever since I read it. Though a seemingly infinite alphabet separates our last names one day I hope to wander into a library and see a humble book of my own leaning against his.