Wednesday, April 30, 2008

the festival of books: ray bradbury

Royce Hall

Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury recalls telling John Huston that he has become Herman Melville

This was finally the year I managed to see Ray Bradbury, who has almost a cult-like following among the Festival of Books crowd. The line for ticket holders wrapped almost all the way around Royce Hall, and once inside, I sat next to a man who religiously attends Bradbury's talk each year. After a sweet introduction by Bradbury's old friend Sid Stebel, the man himself was wheeled out onto the stage. His theme for this year: loving your life.

Bradbury touched on his memories of being born and circumcised, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, the Phantom of the Opera, dinosaurs, King Kong, Mr. Electrico's sword, how to live forever, meeting the Illustrated Man at 12, beginning to write on a toy typewriter and writing every day for the next 70 years, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Norman Corwin, the planet Mars, using the telephone at the gas station, letting people know you exist, taking a Greyhound to New York, The Martian Chronicles as a novel he hadn't realized he'd written, being paid $700 each for The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man in one day, Christopher Isherwood, tea with Aldous Huxley, book burning, spending $9.81 ($.10/hour) to rent a UCLA typing room to write Fahrenheit 451, Hugh Hefner, proving his love to John Huston, Shakespeare, seeing Laurel & Hardy in Ireland, embodying Herman Melville, becoming a playwright, Bernard Berenson's first fan letter in 89 years, Fellini, Chaplin, Halloween, cartoons, Chuck Jones, hating The Great Pumpkin, The Halloween Tree, Gene Kelly, Singin' in the Rain as science fiction musical, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Buck Rogers, ComicCon, and living on Alpha Centauri.

Memorable quotes:
"I finally got engaged to this girl. She took a vow of poverty."
"Forget about universities. Live in the library."
"Jump off a cliff - on the way down, build your wings."
"Jesus God! That's love!"

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