Wednesday, June 6, 2012

When I was in eight grade, towards the end of the year, we had one huge book project in English class. In the first three semesters we were allowed to pick two or three books (depending on the length) and make little projects out of them--drawings, posters, small pamphlets with the characters and plot, etc. In the fourth semester, we had to pick. I remember most of the list (although maybe I'm missing one or two): Dawn, Pride and Prejudice, The Lovely Bones, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies, Breathing Underwater, Maus, and finally Fahrenheit 451. My teacher read out descriptions of each book to let us know what to pick from. I was grateful that she had tried to pick one of everything; contemporary, classical, for teens, for adults, one graphic novel just in case, some long, some short, all complex or at least well written.

I gave the list to my mother and she picked out a few. I had already read Pride and Prejudice and Maus, and didn't read Lord of the Flies or Dawn that year but did so several years later. Out of the bunch, I read The Lovely Bones, Breathing Underwater, Catcher in the Rye, and Fahrenheit 451.

I'm not sure what exactly made me chose Fahrenheit. I have four favorite novels of all time and I really only read A Clockwork Orange, Lolita, and The Basic Eight much later on, with a more matured mind and formed thoughts. When I read Fahrenheit, I was very young. Barely departed from my faith, still too shy, still too judgmental. I'm glad I was able to be exposed to it at such an early age. The descriptions were everything, the dialogue was everything, Montag's interactions with everyone--his wife, Captain Beatty, Faber, Granger, Clarisse, even the woman in the burning house--was everything that made up the book and made it feel real to me.

When I was done, the edition I had held an interview. Bradbury spoke about characters, how he listened to them and wrote down their stories, he spoke about the feeble idea that the passion we have in our work should any way be connected to money. He wholeheartedly disagreed with it. He'd sold newspapers on the corner of streets and educated himself in libraries. He wrote every day for years and years.

I hope he was still writing till the very end. It made him happy.

Rest in peace, Ray Bradbury.

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"Science and science fiction have done a kind of dance over the last century... The scientists make a finding. It inspires science fiction writers to write about it, and a host of young people read the science fiction and are excited, and inspired to become scientists...which they do, which then feeds again into another generation of science fiction and science..."
- Carl Sagan, in his message to future explorers of Mars.