R.I.P. Ray Bradbury (August 22, 1920 - June 5, 2012)

"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you."

So said Ray Bradbury. Of Waukegan, Illinois. And, it must also be noted, of Planet Earth.

Bradbury was a nerd. He was into Zen. He has been branded a Sci-Fi writer. Minimized. But for his 92 years, he wrote like he was more than drunk. He wrote like he was infected with an Ebola Virus of Words. A stylist? I'll leave that to the English Departments. A font of ideas? Bradbury didn't just spin them out, he birthed them with a fury and vision no writer of our era has matched. His invention and dystopic vision could go trope to trope with Philip K. Dick, his humor rivaled Roald Dahl, his grasp of the fact that many of the facts of life could only truly be revealed through Science Fiction was right there with Arthur C. Clarke. Truffaut adapted him -- and so did Hitchcock.

Kubrick said a story is a miracle. Bradbury made miracles look like pouring a bowl of cereal.

If there was another Midwestern seer to match him, it was Vonnegut. But Vonnegut headed East to grumpy, Twain-ish respectability. Bradbury fled West. La La  and coastlines. Like another landlocked visionary who changed the way we all think in the '50s and '60s did, Charles Schulz.

And, finally, what links those two is their humanity amidst the feverish creativity.

Look into his Library of America Collection. Any page. Look at his "Zen in the Art of Writing," one of the most searing and honest writing tomes anywhere. And the most useful.

Which takes me to the master prose stylist, story writer, and genius to whom all writers, high, medium, and low brow, can agree on: Flaubert.

And what did Flaubert, the Master of Madame Bovary, have to say about writing and living?

"Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work."

Like Ray. - Ken Krimstein


Mr. Krimstein is a writer, cartoonist, father, and grump who just moved back to Chicago. So there.