Everybody else is saying better and more thoughtful things in memory of Ray Bradbury than I ever could. But Bradbury was the first writer I obsessed over, the first I tried to imitate, the first I renounced (oh, the follies of youth!), and the first I reconciled with.
If his work failed to move me during certain periods of my life, it was my fault. A little distance from childhood idols isn’t a terrible thing during the formative years of young adulthood, but I’m glad that phase is over. I remember being inspired by Bradbury as a youngster, and I like that I can be inspired by him again today.
My twelve year old self would probably be disappointed that I never learned to write like Bradbury. But I learned to write like me while still appreciating the inimitable style that alternately enraptured and enraged me throughout my reading life. And the unapologetic passion that Ray Bradbury had for his own literary loves shaped my tastes and gave me an easier entry into the wider world of Dickens, Melville, Shakespeare, Poe, Swift, and all the others.
That last was probably the best gift of all. Writers should be the ones to love books most of all, but strangely that’s not always obvious. With Ray Bradbury, it always was — and his love remains a great example for a young (or old!) reader.
So, thanks, Mr Bradbury. All the best to you.