Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ray Bradbury: Changing the Direction of American Literature and My Childhood

It had to be the most ridiculous book I had ever read. Making booze from weeds, a broken-down carnival game, a Podunk town in Illinois. Seriously? I couldn't believe my English teacher was making me read such a stupid book for my first reading assignment in high school.

It wasn't until the following summer—long after the tests and essays and in-class writing assignments were over—that I truly read Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine. But somewhere in the nine months of my freshman year, I became ready to understand. Maybe summer allowed me to see the beauty in bottling up the magic of childhood. Or maybe I was finally ready to put away my adolescence and start becoming an adult. But in my second attempt at reading about Douglas, Tom and Charlie, I understood that even as we grow up and move on, a little part of us stays a child forever.

Since my first experience with Bradbury more than 15 years ago, I've read many of his other books. None of them had the same impact on me as Dandelion Wine, but there are several bottles in the cellar of my soul, each with a label of a book that changed me:

So thank you, Ray Bradburg. You might not be with us any longer, but your words will stay with us forever.

Ray Bradbury (August 22, 1920-June 5, 2012)

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