Came across the following review of THE TIME OF GOING AWAY and felt Ray got pretty shabby treatment. I sent the guy an e-mail to set him straight Others may wish to do the same:
Definitely unfair in places. Actually, the worst review I EVER saw was a newspaper article on "Green Shadows, White Whale." This one contained one very interesting detail: for some time now I've been watching reruns of "The Twilight Zone" trying to figure out which four episodes were supposedly Ray ripoffs. This one mentioned one I hadn't seen in years (if ever) in connection with "Death and the Maiden." If Ray is now being accused of ripping off the TZ, it's a sad state of affairs indeed!
I read the review and sent on to the reviewer the following words:
Well, you know, those who can't write, are critics. I loved the three plays, familiar as they are to any well read Bradbury fan. I had tears in my eyes for The Swan, laughed at The Time of Going Away (that is the true name of the story upon which the second play is based), and just marveled at the wit and cunning of old man Death in coaxing the Maiden to finally live her life without fear. You can have Gibson, give me Bradbury any day. He knows about people and feelings and emotion. He is never a "thing" writer, and certainly not a Sci-Fi writer at all, as he has consistantly stated. He is a fantasy writer, story teller, and lastly a great poet, in the mold of Collier, Melville and Dickinson. The movies have left the story writers behind them for a while now, fascinated as they are with "Thingdom" and "special effects". When the current generation of movie-goers wake up and realize they have been had by said cheap thrills and can take no lasting lessons home with them, maybe another Bradbury will emerge to make those of us who crave great writing cry tears of both joy and sadness, the true Human emotions of Love.
I emailed also. My primary concern was he brought in a bunch of non-sequitor attacks on Bradbury's presumed politics as a way of attacking Bradbury's relevance. Here is my email:
April 8, 2003.
Re: Your Review of Ray Bradbury's "the time of going away"
Any publicity is better than none, I suppose.
May I offer a couple comments:
(1) Bradbury is one our most original and creative writers. He has never pretended to aspire to be Samuel Beckett. Judge him for what he is doing -- not how you suppose Beckett would have done it.
(2) The inclusion of his opinion of Bush is a total non-sequitor and has absolutely nothing to do with the play. Why is this quote in here? To try and show that he's simple-minded? Anyone who supports Bush is simple-minded, so the play can't be any good? I am not able to find any relevance at all to that particular quote, other than to ridicule an opposing political view. These aren't really political plays, so your inclusion of the quote is really just a simple-minded inflammatory comment about your own political views. (As an aside, was Clinton's presidency any less "freakish" than you allege a Bush presidency is?)
(3) Again, your comment about the Ronald Reagan era is ham-fisted as well. Bradbury's "Green town" type stories go back to the depression era mid-west. What has that got to do with the Reagan era? Whether the ideals Reagan espoused are "marketed fiction" or not is certainly arguable. My parents represented those values and life-style choices. Again, your reference to the Reagan era (especially with your "marketed fiction" judgment) is another non-sequitor, having nothing to do with the plays.
(4) To call him a "science fiction writer" and then castigate him on that basis is simply dishonest. He has never classified himself as a science fiction writer. He does fantasy, fiction and poetry. He has long held that the only science fiction he wrote was the novel, Fahrenheit 451.
(5) Many of his fans find his optimistic view of the future to be a plus in his writing, rather than a negative, as you seem to imply. He is not a "Pollyanna" or "positive mental attitude wins all" writer. His writing includes the various weakness of human character. He simply chooses to find ways for humanity to redeem themselves in his writing. William Gibson is a very good science fiction writer, but, "he's no Ray Bradbury".
When you just talked to the play -- content and acting -- I thought your review was fairly even-handed; but next time, leave the politics out and just focus on the play as a work of art.
[This message has been edited by Mr. Dark (edited 04-09-2003).]
OK, friends! Here is a short but direct quote from the above site WritingReptile posted:
"Many of Bradbury's stories are not science fiction at all, but smiling approvals of a deceitful American memory -- a candy-coated memory at that, in which everyone is white and gently bemused. No wonder Bradbury is enjoying a resurgence; a gently bemused white man runs America. He's anything but an artist; many Americans, however, would call Ray Bradbury an artist."
And there is much more where this came from if you click on the address WR added. Maybe this is one of the frustrated soaped out posters from yesteryear who has found a audience of his own?
Does this "critic" have a clue? What has he read of Mr. Bradbury's life's works? 3 stories? An interview that doesn't agree with HIS political stands (therefore take the cap off the old agenda pen!!)?
Maybe his critique of F451 would be to change the plot or simply burn it: "....deceitful American memory -- a candy-coated memory at that!"
Public domain e-mail - email@example.com
Some rebuttals seem appropriate!
As to whether he can be a soaped-out poster of yesteryear: not without a lot of help from a darn good editor, as most of them were not that articulate and some barely even communicated in English. He certainly had some things wrong: calling the stories new when they've been around for decades and are only new in play form, and implying that "Death and the Maiden" could be influenced or derived from anything in "The Twilight Zone" when the first episode never came on until after "Death and the Maiden" was published. If he knew much Bradbury history he'd realize the TZ reference struck a particular nerve.
Dandy, Per the "soaped out" comment, just a bit of humor! I did respond to him and wait to see if he replies!
NOT an artist really is a low blow. RB has written for 60 years, every day! It is his Life and, therefore, his Art!
This article has an almost a vicious tone at times. It seems to come from some past conflict that may have been festering. (?!)
My e-mail to To Mark Jonas:
I have just re-read you comments on Mr. Ray
Bradbury's works. I did so in order to be
sure that I caught all of your derogatory
remarks directed toward one of American
literature's greatest Masters and
Treasures. You seem to have become blurred
in your professional vision, and
responsibility, by going way off course
concerning your review's purpose. It is
very obvious you have different political
views than those of the author. So be it!
However, to assault his entire life as a
writer and "AN ARTIST" is beneath dignity on
your part as a literary (??) critic. You
have an ax to grind, and it comes through in
your writing. It actually overwhelms the
A few facts: Mr. Bradbury has been writing
every day of his professional career for the
past 60+ years. Consider some of his, as
you call them, "candy-coated"
accomplishments: Dark Carnival, Martian
Chronicles, Dandelion Wine (and a portion of
the moon named after this book), Fahrenheit
451, Illustrated Man, Golden Apples of the
Sun, Something Wicked This Way Comes, nearly
70 television episodes based on his stories,
numerous movies, collections of essays,
mysteries, books of poems, etc! See for
Oh, I forgot you are already privy to these
works and are the critics' critic on same!
Over the years, he has remained open and
accessible to his fans and the media. At 82
years old he remains productive, lively in
his debates, and keeps an eye on the
future. In a few years when so many "15
minute" famers have come and gone, the works
of Mr. Bradbury will still stand tall and
worthy of reading by a new generation.
Imagination is at the core of his works.
Maybe that is what you have missed!
I refrain from any personal affronts to you
as a reviewer because I have never read
anything else you have done. Maybe this is
just a blip in your efforts and was due to
some bit of undigested beef. In any case, I
feel you have done a misdeed to a man, an
artist, who has dedicated his life to
creating images and making young and old
readers "think"! A rare things these days -don't you think!?
I remain a long-time fan and teacher of Mr.
Ray Bradbury's works. I consistently have
more students inspired by his works than any
other author I discuss. This speaks louder
than the words you have offered in
Ironic - Your last name is the same as one
of his most benevolent characters, Mr.
Jonas, in Dandelion Wine. You know that
one, of course? Mr. Jonas saved young
Douglas Spaulding after an especially
challenging summer of personal turmoil and
loss of friends. Any similarities, Mr.
[This message has been edited by fjpalumbo (edited 04-09-2003).]
Ray Bradbury's legacy remains secure in the hearts and souls of his grateful admirers. Five minutes from now, Mark What's-His-Name will be forgotten. Pity the next artist that has to watch their valued work endure his razor-sharp slicing and dicing.
What should concern Ray's fans more is the topic of the triple-titled production: Death. Let's hope this doesn't become a precurser to his mind's preoccupation. Everything this man does in his twilight years should carry twice the weight of his earlier writing since with age comes wisdom. If you start with such a high quota at birth, imagine the potential insights life's experiences can add to his repertoire. It is commonly held that Ray lives through his words, or perhaps the words live through him.
So I say,
VIVA LA RAY BRADBURY!
As one ages, one's own mortality obviously becomes something one thinks about more often. However, I would not worry about Ray becoming preoccupied with the subject in his writing. After all, death has been a subject of his writing for decades. Death is a mystery and wonder to the young and old alike, and goes hand in hand with the opportunity to live. In fact, when asked in a question and answer session several years back why he wrote so much about death, Ray replied, "Because I am alive."
Incidentally, according to the back cover from my program for THE TIME OF GOING AWAY (which was a truly wonderful production, never mind what the so-called "critics" say), the next play to be offered by Ray's Pandemonium Theater Company will be THE OCTOBER COUNTRY, at Theater West from May 31 through June 28, 2003.
Glad to see I wasn't the only one that took offense to the Ray bashing in that "review". Mr. Dark hit on almost exactly the same points as I in my reply to the writer, but of course he was much more organized and eloquent!
I think for the most part I believe as Celestial, that Ray's legacy is secure. But I think it unwise to remain silent in the face of ignorance and prejudice, lest it have a chance to fester and spread. It's amazing the kind of stupidity that gets around on the web. Surely much of the world needs no education on Ray's contribution to literature...but that reviewer did. And boy did we educate him.
[This message has been edited by WritingReptile (edited 04-09-2003).]
Guys like Mark Jonas....
...you can seldom win an argument with them. They are....different political poles, different ethical poles, different loves. I tend to think that the Mark Jonas of the world know somethings up, but just haven't gotten around to figuring it out quite yet. But they do keep a partial eyelid open just in case. That is better ...than no partial eyelid at all...
Bravo to everyone that e-mailed the unknowledgable critic.....
[This message has been edited by Nard Kordell (edited 04-09-2003).]
Pisses me off...
Your responses to this Jonas guy are fantastic. I think you hit the nail on the head! It's good to know we don't always suffer fools gladly ... Especially those fools who have the ignorance and audacity to insult Ray.
I've been quite busy lately, sorry I haven't posted much. I'm getting married in two and a half days, so wish me luck!
First of all, best of luck to you and your bride, Greg. I hope any little Gregs you two might eventually have will be big Bradbury fans as well! Secondly, I got so upset when I read that review this morning I had to wait until tonight to calm down and marshal my thoughts before e-mailing that critic. I knew if I wrote it this morning I would end up swearing or saying something else really immature. (I hope everyone reading this doesn't decide I'm a jerk. I just always get very emotional about Ray. I almost felt like someone had slammed one of my parents!) Anyway, after a great day teaching my lit classes "Dark They Were..." and "The Veldt," it helped me to calm down and be more civilized with my e-mail. I took him to task on many of the points you have mentioned here already, but I also raised the issue of his misinformed comment about all of Ray's characters being white. I can't tell you how many stories of Ray's I've read that include Latinos, for example. And there are a number with African-Americans as well. I just object so strongly when people try to make inflammatory racial remarks, especially when they are writing about things they know nothing about. And that is the strongest complaint I have about this critic; he seems to have read only a few of Ray's stories and then makes these sweeping generalizations. I told him, "I'm not saying you have to like Ray or his work, but if you dislike him, at least have valid reasons." Thanks for letting me vent, and I hope everyone takes the time to e-mail that guy and set the record straight. Live forever!!
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