For decades, Ray Bradbury has inspired a vast array of creative
minds --- from writer Stephen King to film director Steven
Spielberg, from rock guitarist Ace Frehley to astronaut Buzz Aldrin
--- and now we get a very intimate look into the story behind the
man. Sam Weller was given incredible access to Bradbury, his wife
Marguerite, and many of his friends and family in an effort to
compile this amazing look at the moments that built the framework
of Bradbury's creativity.
Born in 1920 in Waukegan, Illinois, Ray Bradbury was a child of a
father touched by wanderlust and big dreams at a time when the
Great Depression had a stranglehold on the country. From Illinois
to Arizona to Hollywood, Bradbury's family searched for work.
Moving to various areas of the country, he never lost his simple
midwest roots, which can be seen in many of his stories as he
returns time and again to simpler times in Illinois autumns.
As a young boy, Bradbury was inspired by the adventures of Buck
Rogers, Tarzan, John Carter of Mars, and a multitude of other
fantastical wonders in print and on film. Weller shows us a young
man who devoured books and always found the means, even in the
hardest of times, to make his way into the movie theater. From
these creations he felt the pull toward his own imagination, the
results of which has entertained generations of readers.
In 1932, Bradbury had an unexpected encounter with sideshow
attraction Mr. Electrico. The magician confronted him during his
performance and shouted to him "Live forever!" Though Bradbury will
no doubt have to leave us (hopefully none too soon), in the end he
will have left behind a literary legacy that will ensure Mr.
Electrico's bold command holds true.
As a young man whose youth was touched by hardships and tragedies,
including the deaths of two siblings, Bradbury persevered and
showed millions of readers the beauty and mystery of things on Mars
and beyond, as well as the great discoveries to be found right in
front of their very eyes. His work is a beautiful blend of the
fantastic and the real, and they have a common humanity that
touches all who read them.
Sam Weller's biography of this fantastic man makes him all the more
human, and the reader is able to see that the most outstanding and
astonishing fantasies have their roots in the simplest moments of
Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard (NmDPlm@comcast.net) on January 5, 2011