In 2002, Ray Bradbury's book, "Fahrenheit 451" was chosen to represent "One Book, One City - L.A.". Pictured at Central Library's Mark Taper auditorium are, from left to right: Actor Joe Mantegna, Jr.; 9th District Councilwoman Jan Perry; unidentified man; author Ray Bradbury (in wheelchair); Mayor James K. Hahn; and City Librarian Susan Kent. Photo dated March 14, 2002.
(Kitty Felde, then host of KPCC's Talk of the City program, interviewed Ray Bradbury when "Fahrenheit 451" was chosen for LA's One Book, One City program in 2002. We've posted the entire half-hour live Q&A.)
I met Ray Bradbury in high school, when he came to speak to fellow students at Pius X in Downey. I think he signed every paperback copy of every short story collection of his I owned. He made me want to be a writer, to think outside the box, to be hopeful about the future and to love my fellow humans a bit more. And to dream of going to Mars.
His stories still haunt me: the magic walls of that nursery that turned into an African veldt; the Mexican men who shared a lovely white suit; the forgetting that happened on that distant red planet. What other writer left such vivid impressions on my brain?
I loved the fact that he wrote many of his stories at local LA public libraries, that despite living in LA most of his adult life, he didn't drive; and that he was so accessible. For much of his life, you could call him on the phone and talk with this giant of literature. He was a treasure.