Mad Love: When I Met Ray Bradbury
"Mad Love" was the inscription Ray Bradbury wrote on the book I took out to California in 2006 on my first, and only visit to his home. I think I was more nervous about this trip than any other event in my life. Traditional celebrities hold very little interest for me, but authors make me swoon, which explains why I have worked in a library for the past 17 years. I was scheduled to visit Ray for a second time this past June, two weeks after he passed away. Needless to say, I was crushed that our visit was not to be.
In society, Ray Bradbury is known as a science fiction writer (which he would disagree with), a futurist, a poet, a dreamer and more. In person he was animated, energetic, enthusiastic and childlike in his ability to show wonder. After our visit he would often send me emails signed "with love." In my opinion, Ray was a humanist who loved every minute of life. In his stories, that often take place in the future or on other planets, the characters experience conflicts and relationships like people anywhere and at any time. His use of language is rich and often poignant. His tales of caution are prescient, as in the futuristic Fahrenheit 451.
My visit in 2006 was primarily to ensure that the Library had archival interview footage of Ray reminiscing about growing up in Waukegan and using the Waukegan Public Library. We also planned to use it for our First Annual Ray Bradbury Storytelling Festival that October, since Ray could not be there in person. We created the Festival as a way to honor Ray and his work, to connect him to a younger audience, and to bring literature to life through the oral tradition of storytelling. But, we also created the Festival because we have "mad love" for Ray and his profound influence on modern day society.
Experience the Award-Winning Seventh Annual Ray Bradbury Storytelling Festival this October 26 at the Genesee Theatre. Go here for more information. I hope to see you there!
Assistant Director of Community Services
Waukegan Public Library