I couldn't find a way to reply to Nard's post. When I saw the post, I immediately called my local Barnes and Noble, and sure enough, they had a copy. I had them put it behind the counter for me and picked it up the day it came out. I had not heard of this book, so wanted to thank Nard for highlighting it for us.
"Bradbury Speaks: Too Soon From the Cave, Too far From the Stars" Ray Bradbury. HarperCollins, NY. 2005.
It's a collection of 37 brief essays divided into the following categories:
About Science Fiction
About Los Angeles
Anyway, good reading to all . . .
Thanks again, Nard; for keeping me up to date.
Are any of the essays new?
I'm at work right now and don't have the book with me. I'll try to check tonight. Obviously, the introduction is new. Other than that, I'll see if there is a listing of publication dates on the essays. Thanks to Nard's posting, I picked it up the first day it was available.
The table of contents designates dates for the essays. Most are from the past. There are some that are undated, but it does not indicate if they are undated because they are new, because they were never published, or because they were uncertain of the dates. My guess is that this is a collection of previously written essays.
Some are very casually, quickly and loosely thrown together; others ("The Ardent Blashphemers" which compares Herman Melville and Jules Verne, for example) while retaining a breezy, casual style, are more academic (yet still fun) in their approach and tone.
The stuff I've looked at (and I have a dozen other books I'm reading, and getting set up for another semester of teaching Philosophy and working on a couple book projects) is vintage Bradbury in it's exuberance, enthusiasm, near-irreverence and fun.
Thanks again, Nard, for flagging this. You were timely enough to allow me to get it the first day it was available--something that, for some obessive-compulsive reason--is very fun for me.
Thanks for the information, Mr. Dark. Sorry for the belated response; I've been out of town.
I'll have to pick up the book soon.
Found this review of RB's new book. I must say that I disagree with much of what is written in the critique:
Me, too, I love the movie Moby Dick. This guy doesn't know what he's talking about. I am a nautical nerd, and I can tell you, the attention to nautical detail in the movie is very thorough. They used footage of real whaling the way it used to be done in Melville's time, and the white whale special effects were really pretty good considering it was the fifties. I wonder if he ever saw the uncut version. His review seems to be kind of a knee-jerk reaction to the book, he is basically dissing it without saying anything very scholarly. It seems he is just accusing Bradbury of being a blowhard. At least he gives grudging credit for writing great fiction. I guess he has to admit Bradbury is a great writer after all.
The Lake: I have to agree that the review is pretty off-base. She criticizes Bradbury for being egotistical--that he should let others praise him--when I'm not sure she even knows what she's saying. When he says that nothing would have been done without science fiction (someone reading about it, first), she accuses him of bragging on himself. He's speaking of ALL writers in science fiction. In a poem he once wrote (the title eludes me), he called cave paintings of ancient man mythology and science fiction. He is not saying HE personally, has been the source of all technological development. Her essay seems unnecessarily mean-spirited and seems to attack Ray's claim by mis-interpreting them and then attacking her own misinterpretation of his work (straw man fallacy). Anyway, I agree that I disagree with much of what the critic here says.
What a strange review this is! For someone who claims to have seen him 30 times at conferences, signings, and events, she seems unfamiliar with the personality of the man himself. Of course his essays come from a different place than his fiction. They’re essays! Is Bradbury full of himself in these essays? Yes! Because they’re essays about, well, Bradbury. Who else is going to be the hero of these things? Who does Carolyn See (the book reviewer) write about in her personal essays? Someone across the room?
Look, it’s not that I’m opposed to valid criticism of Bradbury. Goodness knows he’s not a flawless writer, or person, but his accomplishments speak for themselves. I did a quick scroll through her website and found Ms. See has published a few of her own books but this review comes across as disjointed and amateurish and she either doesn’t know her subject or has failed completely to understand the man who wrote these essays. Not much of a writer, if you ask me.
wOw! This review by Carolyn See is quite interesting. Can I figure out exactly what she thinks of Ray? Maybe yes. Maybe no! Think about it. She says she's been around Ray so many times in so many years, but spoken to him only once. And in all that time, he seems to always look sad. Now with that in mind, exactly what is she looking at? Not what most of us see.
I'll have to see 'Moby Dick' again when I get the chance. I'd like to catch that naugahyde couch she's described so well...
You're right, Mr. Dark, "mean-spirited" sums up the Ms. See review. She obviously doesn't know RB. If she had spoken to him more than once over the years, she would have discovered his generous spirit and big heart. She would have discovered how he embraces life and is a most joyous human being... not to mention the best living American writer on the planet.
Maybe she should start over and really get to know the man.
The scene in the end with the white whale is pretty good. She (d'oh!) must be referring to the close up scenes with Ahab on the whale's side when she's talking about a naugahyde couch. It really isn't that bad.
Last year when I saw him at Comic-con Ray said our purpose in life was to observe the wondrousness of the universe and celebrate it. Doesn't sound to sad to me.
In re-reading her essay, it really looks to me like she didn't read the entire book, but mainly the introduction. I see little evidence that she read anything beyond a smattering of the essays. I read the first portion of the book yesterday, and she has simply missed the boat on this review.
I was lucky enough to do some bookstore browsing this weekend and picked up a copy of Bradbury Speaks. I spent less than 20 minutes flipping through the book and I could write a better, fairer review than Ms. See did. Granted, I'm a fan, and I could spot the essays I've already read a mile off but I was quite pleased to see much of what's in the volume is new to me. Definitely a volume worth having.
But Ms. See's review really bothers me. Yes, Bradbury can sometimes sound like he's full of himself but then I guess Ms. See might think Whitman was full of himself in Leaves of Grass. Gracious, these are essays by Bradbury about how Bradbury sees things. Of course he's going to be the center of them. And, yeah, Bradbury tends to lay on the hyperbole a bit but so what? Some people call that style. I don't look to Bradbury's essays for a cold recitation of facts; I look to them to learn how he thinks and, most importantly, FEELS about his topics. No one can come away from these essays without knowing that Bradbury is nothing if not enthusiastic.
As a rock-ribbed Conservative, I have my own gripes with the Wa-Po but on occasion they get things right. (They have, after all, George Will and Stephen Hunter in their stable of writers.) Apparently their standards are fairly low when it comes to their book reviewers. Too bad.
I've been reading this book: "Bradbury Speaks: Too Soon From the Cave, Too far From the Stars"
And it's like Ray is right here talking to me. I guess he has the ability not only to live forever, but to bilocate!
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