Friday, May 21, 2010

The cute Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury is turning 90 is August. Related to this or not, there's an interview with him in the latest issue of the Paris Review. Obviously, I'm missing something about the Paris Review, but I find it curious that the interview is unattributed to a specific interviewer or editor. Moreover, the interview is heavily based on an unpublished interview that the magazine conducted with Bradbury in the 1970s. So, it's a compilation of two separate interviews, written by two unnamed people. The strangeness of this aside, the later of the unnamed writes: "It's unclear why the interview was abandoned, but according to an attached editorial memo, editor George Plimpton found the first draft 'a bit informal in places, maybe overly enthusiastic.'"

The interview itself is super cute. My favorite part is when Bradbury compares story ideas to hungry nestlings:
I do keep files of ideas and stories that didn't quite work a year ago, five years ago, ten years ago. I come back to them later and I look through the titles. It's like a father bird coming with a worm. You look down at all these hungry little beaks -- all these stories waiting to be finished -- and you say to them, Which of you needs to be fed? Which of you needs to be finished today? And the story that yells the loudest, the idea that stands up and opens its mouth, is the one that gets fed. And I pull it out of the file and finish it within a few hours.
Although, if I think about this quote a little longer, there's something very paternalistic in the metaphor -- a story idea that is separate from the father-bird and depending entirely upon him for nurture. Also, something very survival-of-the-species -- it's not the hungriest or the smallest bird that gets the worm, but the one who yells the loudest. Still, I find the metaphor cute. A lot more cute than, say, Bradbury's rant against teaching of mathematics. The Paris Review quotes him as saying: "We should forget about teaching children mathematics. They are not going to use it ever in their lives. Give them simple arithmetic -- one plus one is two, and how to divide, an dhow to subtract. Those are simple things that can be taught quickly. But no mathematics because they are never going to use it, never in their lives, unless they are going to be scientists, and then they can simply learn it later." This reads to me more scary than cute.

Also, Neil Gaiman just published a personal essay on Bradbury in TimesOnline, where he basically gushes about the Bradbury books he read as a child. This is definitely cute.


  1. That Ray Bradbury didn't know much about brain development, did he?

  2. Theresa, brain development? Explain, please -- sounds super interesting :))