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Orson Scott Card: Thoughts on Ray Bradbury
National Review Online ^ | June 7, 2012 | Orson Scott Card

Posted on 06/08/2012 6:42:18 PM PDT by neverdem

The year was 1969. I was 18 or so.

I stood in front of the small science-fiction section of the Brigham Young University bookstore, taking I Sing the Body Electric from the shelf, hefting it, opening it, reading just a little, then putting it back.

I had too much respect for books in general, and for this book in particular, even to imagine reading the whole thing without paying for it.

But it was a hardcover. Not a discounted book-club edition — the real thing, at full price. And I was a college student, pretty close to broke. Buying this book would push me over that edge.

I came back day after day. Until I broke down and, yes, spent all my money on a single book.

Worth it?

This was Ray Bradbury’s newest story collection. It contained “Yes, We’ll Gather at the River.” “The Man in the Rorschach Shirt.” “The Lost City of Mars.” “The Haunting of the New.”

Above all, the story that gave its title to the collection, about a child who rejects the robot “grandmother” given to her to help her deal with the death of her mother.

I knew I would love these stories, and I did, and I do.

I had already lived the life of Daniel Spaulding in Dandelion Wine and Something Wicked This Way Comes. I had visited the strange, magical, unreal but utterly truthful Mars of The Martian Chronicles. I had shivered my way through The October Country.

Even his titles were magical: “The Machineries of Joy,” “The Golden Apples of the Sun.” Reading Bradbury was like exploring my own memories; all the hope and joy and dread and anguish of childhood and adolescence were turned into music in his stories.

Five years later, a young woman who lived across the street had to wear eyepatches for several days, making her effectively blind. I went over to her house to help her pass the time.

I brought that hardcover of I Sing the Body Electric. I read to her.

That was when I realized that Bradbury’s stories were not meant to be read silently. Your lips have to move, your voice has to produce those words, the cadences of his language have to rise out of your own throat.

What counted in the Whitman quote Bradbury used for his title was not the word “electric.” Not even “body.”

It was “sing.”

The girl I was reading to married me. Talk about a book changing your life! (She assures me that it was me, not Bradbury, she fell in love with.)

Something else happened, too. As a playwright, I was then studying Shakespeare, writing plays in blank verse, feeling the power of iambic pentameter in dialogue I wrote for the stage.

Now, though, I realized that it wasn’t just on stage that the flow and music of language counted. Bradbury used it in his fiction; he used it all the time.

You never had to stumble or pause when reading Bradbury. It wasn’t just the smoothness of his language — it was the way he used repetition, fragmentation, breathless run-on sentences to sweep you through the tale.

His language made even the quotidian narrative sections emotional, so when the story reached for deeper feelings, they were within easy reach.

Not long afterward, I turned to writing fiction, and as I made my first forays I had Ray Bradbury’s permission to use cadenced language, his example to prove that prose could sing.

Bradbury never made you stop reading to notice how cleverly he wrote. On the contrary, his music held you inside the story, as if the words had come out of your own mind and heart.

He embodied what Pope advocated: “True Wit is Nature to Advantage drest, / What oft was Thought, but ne’er so well Exprest.”

I learned many techniques from many writers — exposition from Heinlein, ironic viewpoint from Austen and Mitchell, clarity and invisibility from Asimov, motive from Richter.

But from whom else could a writer learn to take seemingly ordinary language and make music with it? Ray Bradbury was the rhapsode of our time. Now he’s gone, but his music lives on, played on his virtuoso instrument: the voice of every reader, whether we read aloud or in the privacy of our hearts.

— Orson Scott Card is a novelist and critic.



TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: books; bradbury; eulogy; fiction; literature; orsonscottcard; raybradbury

1 posted on 06/08/2012 6:42:28 PM PDT by neverdem
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To: neverdem
Eloquent high praise.

It has been too long since I read an Orson Scott Card novel.

2 posted on 06/08/2012 6:50:53 PM PDT by TChad
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To: TChad
It has been too long since I read an Orson Scott Card novel.

It's been too long since I read "Something Wicked This Way Comes" by Bradbury. Cracked open my old copy and read it last night after hearing about his death. Among many other things, a haunting meditation on middle age and yearning for lost youth - not an aspect of the story I appreciated as much the last time I read the book in college.
3 posted on 06/08/2012 7:12:09 PM PDT by AnotherUnixGeek
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To: neverdem
One of his better pieces.

Thank you.

4 posted on 06/08/2012 7:14:05 PM PDT by Carry_Okie (The Slave Party Switcheroo: Economic crisis! Zero eligibility Trumped!! Hillary 2012!!!)
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To: TChad

A good author’s well-written eulogy for another gifted author. We’ve been lucky to have the both of them. Mr. Bradbury’s wonderful books colored my youth, along with Asimov and Herbert, Heinlein and others. Mr. Card, too, since first reading Ender’s Game. Thank you for posting this.


5 posted on 06/08/2012 7:16:59 PM PDT by sayuncledave (et Verbum caro factum est (And the Word was made flesh))
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To: neverdem

A BTT.


6 posted on 06/08/2012 7:19:50 PM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: neverdem

“Dandelion Wine.”

Summer on a pedestal.


7 posted on 06/08/2012 7:19:59 PM PDT by GreyMountainReagan ("Pray for America")
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To: neverdem
"Enders Game", I will never forget this story from Orson. This fantastic novel could be made into a great movie.
8 posted on 06/08/2012 7:26:16 PM PDT by Musketeer
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To: neverdem

Thank you.


9 posted on 06/08/2012 7:32:39 PM PDT by RobbyS (Christus rex.)
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To: TChad
"It has been too long since I read an Orson Scott Card novel. "

His short story 'West' should be read by all preppers.
10 posted on 06/08/2012 7:33:00 PM PDT by Kartographer ("We mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.")
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To: Musketeer

They are making the movie. Harrison Ford and Ben Kingsley two of the bug stars. Coming out in November 2013

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1731141/


11 posted on 06/08/2012 7:42:37 PM PDT by strider44
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To: Perdogg; AdmSmith; AnonymousConservative; Berosus; bigheadfred; Bockscar; ColdOne; ...

Thanks neverdem.


12 posted on 06/08/2012 7:57:57 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: neverdem

Two good authors. Always.


13 posted on 06/08/2012 8:07:39 PM PDT by bigheadfred (MY PET TAPEWORM OBIWAN IS AN INSANE MILITARY HATING LEFTIST)
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To: neverdem

If anyone doubts Bradbury’s brilliance with making ordinary language into lyrical brilliance, all they need do is read There Will Come Soft Rains. It impacted my students over the years, tough kids from western Queens who knew little or nothing of Sci Fi, but Bradbury transcended the genre and reached the soul.


14 posted on 06/08/2012 8:28:43 PM PDT by xkaydet65
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To: Kartographer
His short story 'West' should be read by all preppers.

Along with Heinlein's Farnham's Freehold.

15 posted on 06/08/2012 8:34:38 PM PDT by Erasmus (BHO: New supreme leader of the homey rollin' empire.)
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To: Hetty_Fauxvert

bookmark


16 posted on 06/08/2012 8:48:43 PM PDT by Hetty_Fauxvert ( "Be Breitbart, baby!")
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To: Musketeer
I wish it could be made into a movie. But it will never happen. Orson has tried to get a movie deal but the deals always included making Ender older and adding a girlfriend. Obviously the studios did not understand the book. Worse the book does not convert from book to movie. Think about it. Where does the movie really take place? It is not at the school it is all in Ender’s mind. Get the anniversary audio addition. It is done really well and has an interview with Orson that is really interesting on Ender’s game and Speaker for the Dead. The book is also on the readers list for Marine officer candidate school.
17 posted on 06/08/2012 8:57:45 PM PDT by sharpee
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To: neverdem

***I had Ray Bradbury’s permission to use cadenced language,***

Permission? Even Ernest Hemingway used cadence language, Just read FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS and you will notice certain cadences in parts of it.

I read Bradbury’s work years ago. Loved it.


18 posted on 06/08/2012 9:29:04 PM PDT by Ruy Dias de Bivar (Anything Goes, Phantom of the Opera, Nice work if you can get it, EVITA. On BROADWAY last week.!)
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To: xkaydet65

I was one of those captured and entranced by Bradbury’s There Will Come Soft Rains. Reading his stories was always like eating a fine dessert.


19 posted on 06/08/2012 9:52:11 PM PDT by rockrr (Everything is different now...)
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To: neverdem
I read some of Orson's Stars Wars novels, back in the beginning of the franchise.
20 posted on 06/08/2012 10:49:20 PM PDT by Ciexyz
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To: Pride in the USA

Ping for a later read.


21 posted on 06/08/2012 11:11:07 PM PDT by Pride in the USA
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To: strider44
They are making the movie. Harrison Ford and Ben Kingsley two of the bug stars.

I'm pretty sure they're on the Humans' side. ;^)

22 posted on 06/08/2012 11:47:51 PM PDT by Slings and Arrows (You can't have Ingsoc without an Emmanuel Goldstein.)
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To: Ruy Dias de Bivar
***I had Ray Bradbury’s permission to use cadenced language,*** yadda yadda yadda

Evidently you missed that the writer was making an ALLUSION to what he learned from Bradbury's prose, just as he alluded to the talents of several other authors from whom he learned writing methods and skills.

23 posted on 06/09/2012 4:07:51 AM PDT by Don W (You can forget what you do for a living when your knees are in the breeze.)
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To: neverdem

There is a lyricism to “Dandelion Wine” that explains why that novel is one of my all time favorites. Simply wonderful.


24 posted on 06/09/2012 9:15:28 AM PDT by buffaloguy
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To: neverdem

Note to Mitt Romney:

Hire a writer who can produce speeches in Iambic Pentameter.

It works.


25 posted on 06/09/2012 9:20:56 AM PDT by buffaloguy
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To: lonevoice

ping


26 posted on 06/09/2012 10:14:45 AM PDT by Pride in the USA
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To: neverdem

Orson Scott Card and Ray Bradbury are two of the greats.

And what a great tribute Card writes to Bradbury.

Beautiful.


27 posted on 06/09/2012 10:48:30 AM PDT by samtheman
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To: Pride in the USA

Thanks so much for the ping. This is really a beautifully expressed tribute. Some of the heartfelt FReeper comments about Bradbury are also much appreciated.


28 posted on 06/09/2012 6:45:42 PM PDT by lonevoice (Today I broke my personal record for most consecutive days lived)
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To: lonevoice

From his book “Bradbury Speaks”.

I was crossing Disneyland one afternoon some years ago, and walking toward me the other way and I saw a small girl in a bright blue-and-white dress, with long golden hair. As she approached and stopped before me, I looked at her and said

“Alice in Wonderland?”
She looked at me and said:
“Ray Bradbury?”


29 posted on 12/15/2013 7:48:55 PM PST by Higgymonster
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