Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Why I Never Liked Ray Bradbury When I Was Growing Up

I grew up in the 1960s.  We were the last generation who could run loose in the neighborhood from Saturday morning until dinner time. Our summers were aimless affairs, devoid of any parental organization, as long as we showed up for school in September. But what does all of this have to do with Ray Bradbury?

Bradbury is famous, of course, for his lyrical, sepia-toned depictions of idyllic Midwestern childhoods, especially in Something Wicked This Way Comes, and Dandelion Wine. But if you are actually experiencing an idyllic Midwestern childhood, then this sort of thing is really boring. I wanted to read about spaceships and galactic empires. I devoured Asimov, and Clarke, and Heinlein. I had no use for Ray Bradbury and his depictions of kids whose lives seemed so similar to my own.

Now that I am firmly entrenched in the very middle of middle age, I can appreciate Bradbury's nostalgic point of view. I recently read both Dandelion Wine and Something Wicked This Way Comes and enjoyed them both.  But I would recommend that everyone put off reading Ray Bradbury until they reach the age of reason, which I'll take to be about 40 years old, or maybe 50.

1 comment:

Priya Palande said...

I am also a child of mid-60s; though I did not grow up in this country. It is so surprising, yet refreshing to learn that my experiences of growing up are not much different from yours. In fact as far as technology is concerned, we had even less. But I had so much fun growing up - playing with my friends in dirt with a pact that if someone got bruised, we won't tell each others' Moms until it was time to go home... By the time we went home (in time before curfew), we would be so drenched in dirt that I don't think our Moms had anything else on their mind except to make sure we had proper shower and wore clean clothes...

Thanks to my parents, books became my friends very early on. Growing up I seemed to in a hurry to surpass all milestones way ahead of time. So I started reading and writing also at very early age.

When SF entered my reading world, it just possessed me! I could never get enough of it. For me, my first exposure was to Jules Verne and it was so fascinating! In fact, it still fascinates me when I realize he wrote in 19th century!

As for Ray Bradbury, I couldn't agree with you more - although, for a different reason. I think his writing is very mature and sometimes explores dark side. I feel it requires some degree of maturity from reader to really appreciate it - like Childhood's End does...