The book in my Ray Bradbury collection that I treasure the most? That's easy. It's my inscribed copy of LET'S ALL KILL CONSTANCE. Let me explain.
Back in around the late 1990's, Ray was scheduled to do a signing at a local Chicago book store. I knew Ray loved the work of George Bernard Shaw, so prior to the signing, I found a first edition of SAINT JOAN to give to him as a gift. When I gave him that book at the signing, Ray was very happy, saying it was his favorite Shaw play. Then...he asked me to inscribe it for him! I was somewhat hesitant to do so. I reminded him that it was a first edition, and said that he really didn't want me signing a book by George Bernard Shaw, did he? He said he absolutely wanted me to inscribe it to him, because he wanted to remember who gave it to him. So, sign I did.
Fast forward to March of 2003. LET'S ALL KILL CONSTANCE had been published, I believe, in December of 2002. I was working late in my office, the only person around. Sitting at my desk, I heard the fax machine outside my office printing out a fax. (Yes, fax machines were used back then!) As no else one was around, I retrieved it. The fax was from Ray, and addressed to me. In the fax, he told me that he had been having some difficulty deciding on the ending for LET'S ALL KILL CONSTANCE and, as he pondered the matter, pulled a copy of SAINT JOAN off his book shelf...the copy I had given and inscribed to him several years earlier. Ray said that he then knew how to end his novel, by using SAINT JOAN, and that by my prior gift, I had helped him write his ending! (And for those of you who haven't read LET'S ALL KILL CONSTANCE, and want to know how SAINT JOAN figures in the story, I say...go read the book!)
Needless to say, Ray's fax made me very happy. I don't think my feet touched the ground for the rest of the evening.
As it happened, I was in Los Angeles only days later, and since I was planning on seeing Ray during my visit, I took my copy of LET'S ALL KILL CONSTANCE with me to get Ray to sign it. And he did, writing (without any prompting from me!) an inscription that makes my copy of LET'S ALL KILL CONSTANCE the book I treasure the most in my Bradbury collection. While I have other items by Ray that may be worth more from a monetary perspective, none of them mean more to me personally. Below is a link to the inscription that Ray wrote in my copy of that book:
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That is a wonderful story, Richard. To know that you contributed in such an important way to one of his books must be a great feeling. I never met Ray so my signed Bradbury books don't have that personal connection. My favorite book in my Bradbury collection is a signed first edition of THE GOLDEN APPLES OF THE SUN, which includes 4 of my top 5 favorite Bradbury stories.
JRES100, THE GOLDEN APPLES OF THE SUN is the first Ray Bradbury book I ever read, way back in junior high school. ( A long time ago!) That's the book that made me a Bradbury reader and fan forever. I love that book, and it's great that you have a signed first edition!
I don't have a book that is as special as Richard's, so I guess my favorite book would be the first Ray Bradbury book I ever bought: R Is for Rocket, the Pan paperback with the abstract art by Ian Miller. I bought it in 1972. I had already read the school library's copy of the book about three years earlier.
My most valuable Bradbury book would certainly be the 2001 limited edition of Dark Carnival. I also have two or three paperbacks that Ray signed and inscribed to me. They were a gift from a friend. I never had the privilege of meeting Ray.
But I guess that first paperback is still the one closest to my heart.
Favorite Book Collection ~ Choice #1A
This first anecdote is actually from an archived RB site post I offered many years ago:
I first read RB as a ninth grader at our Parochial HS, but that first book was not as an assigned classroom reading. Ironically, I was sitting in a study hall with nothing to do, and the Good Sister informed me I was to "Immediately get to the library and return promptly with something to read...Or Else!" (Back then, we never questioned what the "Or Else!" might involve!)
So, upon walking in among several rotating racks of paperbacks, I spun the nearest collection of books. I had no titles, authors, or topics in mind! When the rack stopped its spin, a copy of this Ray Bradbury edition completely captured my attention:
I walked out with a copy of The Golden Apples of the Sun, intrigued by its brown cover with the skull, dinosaur, and volcano on a strange planet's surface. I returned to my seat and began to read.
Favorite Book Collection ~ Choice #1B
This rests next to The Golden Apples on my RB book shelves:
I went on to complete my English and Secondary Education degrees, and Mr. Bradbury's works were always central to my reading, writing, and criticism units (9-12, as well as adult courses).
Our family travelled cross-country and were honored to participate in his 89th birthday celebrations at the Mystery and Imagination Bookstore as well as the evening performances at the Fremonte Centre Theatre. Having corresponded with Mr. Bradbury at that time for approximately fifteen years (via countless letters, cards, taped classroom activities, and phone calls), when I introduced myself and my wife and two sons to RB.....he was so gracious and sincerely pleased to finally personally meet us!
I had come full circle as a young teen myself, mesmerized by short stories decades before, to a teacher who shared this timeless author's writings with students for 30+ years and also as a parent, who read his boys to sleep with tales of planets, dinosaurs, magicians, small town escapades, carnivals, trustworthy friends, and so much more!
Mr. Bradbury so kindly signed countless books for us throughout all of our years of exchanges. However, at his 89th celebration on August 22, 2009, he signed a copy of The Golden Apples of the Sun (c. Bantam, 1967) and Fahrenheit 451 (c. 1987, DelRay). The F451 edition was especially meaningful because it was my class edition with all of its chapter notes and special passage underlines. When I told Mr. Bradbury the significance of each of these books, he was extremely pleased and added special comments along with his lively signature. (*That day his good friends William Nolan and Michael Prichard also visited with us and signed F451.)
Thanks to Mr. Bradbury, I never found out what that original "...Or Else!" was going to be!!This message has been edited. Last edited by: fjp451,
As it happened, I was in Los Angeles only days later, and since I was planning on seeing Ray during my visit, I took my copy ofThis message has been edited. Last edited by: dandelion,
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