I’ve only read three of your books - Something Wicked This Way Comes, Fahrenheit 451 and The Illustrated Man. I’ve watched the movie versions, too, and if anyone ever needs convincing that the original written version of a story is always better than the adapted movie all he needs to do is compare the versions of these three works. Don’t get me wrong. The films were all good, enjoyable and captivating but they didn’t touch me as much as reading your words did. (Although, I have to say that the 1969 film of The Illustrated Man - I believe there’s a version coming out in 2013 - starring Rod Steiger, did creep me out. In a good way.)
I came to your work at around 11 or 12. It was around this time that I’d really started getting into books. I’d just entered secondary school and my sister was (still is) an avid reader and had introduced me to Antoine de Saint Exupery’s The Little Prince. From there, my love of books took off. I recall seeing a copy of Fahrenheit 451 and The Illustrated Man on my father’s bookshelves. I didn’t read them until later in life, in college as part of an American Studies course, my brother telling me at the time that they might be too frightening. So, at school, as my friends read books that weren’t yet then but would be today called YA about teenage boys growing into professional soccer players or novels set in World War II, I came across Something Wicked This Way Comes.
I hadn’t purposely searched for one of your books out but when I pulled it off the shelf at my school library - we had a library period once a week or so and each student had to choose a book, with teacher approval, and read it by the next library period - I was very excited. We never had to write a book report on what we were reading. It was just so we could read and, for that, I am grateful. I recall my teacher telling me how great a writer you are and how I’d like this particular book, about how I’d enjoy the action and suspense as much as the fantasy. She never mentioned anything about how scary - at least for a twelve year old - it might be. If she had, perhaps the impact of the story might have somehow been compromised.
I write now. Well, I’ve been writing since I was a kid but now I’m a published author. I guess it was inevitable that I’d write because I’m the son of a writer and former English teacher, the brother to a journalist and the brother to an English Lit major. As a writer, naturally, I like - no love - books. I credit that to my sister, my secondary school English teachers and you.
Something Wicked This Way Comes found me at the perfect time. My mind was open and my heart passionate for discovery and entertainment. With names like Dark and Nightshade - names that some writing teachers would say are too ‘nail on the head’ - the book presents the perfect balance of good versus evil, temptation, the darkness within each of us and the desire to do good that resides beside it. To be honest, I haven’t thought of Something Wicked This Way Comes in a long time. Now that I am, sadly because of your passing, I am smiling because I am remembering how much I enjoyed and was impressed by it and how much, because of it, I love books and how that, in turn, has helped me define and understand myself.
As I recall all of this, warmly the way one does about the past, I’ve decided that I need to pick up a copy and reread it. And, share it.
Thank you, Mr. Bradbury. You’ve touched many minds and hearts, mine among them. I wouldn’t be the reader and writer today without you.
Rest In Peace. Oh, and if you come across Mr. Dark on your way to literary heaven, tell him I say “hello.”