Patrick E. McLean : Just what it says on the tin.

RIP Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury is dead at 91. But that’s not my measure of the man. As a writer, I notice that he died at 27 novels, 600 short stories. That’s a full writing life. A very full life, indeed.

Ray has had a tremendous impact upon me. He managed to be both entertaining and wise. When I started the Seanachai, I was afraid of running out of things to write — of running out of juice, of passion, of ideas.1 — that I taped these words of his to bottom of my screen.

I claim no victory, but there was blood on my gloves when I hung them up.

He believed in things, not in a trivial or partisan way, but in a way that got to what was fundamental about being human. And when he got all fired up, he wrote about them, eloquently and in way that conveyed some measure of wisdom. Lots of people hate TV. Very few people write the Veldt.

That story is so prescient that it reads us better and better as a culture with every passing year. How many parents do you know who raise their children by putting them in front of a television screen? How many of our personal relationships would be better off if we’d just turn off our screen-centric gadgets for a few more hours every day?

Did he win against the trend he so accurately identified? No. But there was blood on his gloves when he hung them up.

He also hated, I mean HATED, the internet. He called it “a scam perpetrated by computer companies.”

“Yahoo called me eight weeks ago,” he said, voice rising. “They wanted to put a book of mine on Yahoo! You know what I told them? ‘To hell with you. To hell with you and to hell with the Internet.’

Fuck you and the fiber optic pipeline you rode in on! How do you not love that? I look forward to being so old that I get to say whatever I want.

As I close this strange little epitaph, I have another line of Bradbury’s posted to my computer. And I think about it every time I lace up my gloves.

Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you’re doomed.

I’m trying hard not to be doomed.

Rest in Peace Ray Bradbury.

  1. This is no longer my fear. Now I have so many ideas and fragments of stories, my fear is that I will never learn to be fast enough to complete them all. 

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