“First of all, it was October, a rare month for boys.”
I read those lines for the first time as a 15 year old living in a far-off corner of the United States. I was two years too late, because every boy should read Something Wicked This Way Comes when they are 13. But I’m glad I found it when I did, through the recommendation of a friend who also had fallen under the Bradbury spell. Bradbury became our secret language, something none of our other friends understood or cared about. I took my time getting through the book, somehow understanding that it held a wealth of wisdom that I couldn’t quite comprehend fully as a boy. Now, as a much older man, I’m starting tonight to read it again, savoring each page throughout the month.
After Something Wicked, I scrambled to find anything and everything I could by Ray Bradbury. You know the titles. Martian Chronicles. The Illustrated Man. R is for Rocket. S is for Space. Dandelion Wine. And yes, Farenheit 451. Each one was a discovery of savory delights.
I remember my mom swinging by the old green Lay-Z-Boy chair in the front room of our little house as I idled away some summer hours reading a worn paperback with the picture of a tatooed man on the cover.
She stood for a minute and stared. “Hope you’re reading something good.”
“Trust me, mom.” I never took my eyes off the page. “It’s good.”
And it was.
Bradbury had a way of using words to stir up long-forgotten memories, half-buried feelings. Read Bradbury for a few minutes and you feel like you’re getting a peak under the hood of human nature. I hope to be able to write like him, even though I know I never will. We all have our own voice.
Thanks for all the good times, Ray.