Lit Bit: Thank You, Mr. Bradbury

It’s always personal. But then, a good writer takes these characters, these places and ideas, breathes into them, fills their lungs with air, fills the hearts with yearnings using only a pen or a keyboard, and gives these strange people to us. And they come to mean something. These people, made-up and and make-pretend, become as real as our own families because that’s what a writer does: spies on his or her own family, and those nearby. That’s how these ink-on-paper people become real. No blue fairy. Just careful watching and a lot of thought.

And that’s what Ray Bradbury did: he made Martian boys, careless of their parents’ warnings, sucking down lungfuls of thin Martian air, wild and exuberant and unself-conscious, blind to the irony of the bones and ruins that made their games, he made them real. He made me one of them. He made it so that I could see myself among them. That is no easy thing.

For years in SF I’d felt like an outsider. There were never stories about me, this tangly weird girl-thing. But Bradbury was so sharp about catching childhood by the toes, holding community in his arms, capturing what is the very human, that I never felt excluded, even though he mostly wrote about men and boys, through he eyes of men, about men’s lives. I could see myself in almost all of them. He never shied away from tenderness, which is common to us all.

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