When my father died, I had a surrogate dad waiting in the wings: the work of Ray Bradbury. I was obsessed. I felt I would devote my life to him, a feeling common to loves which last no more than a couple years, as this one did. But they were timeless years. Between my 13th and 15th birthday, with my adult future on the horizon, I was still young enough for summers to last forever.
Now in my 50s, I retain the suite of Bradbury paperbacks I collected back then. I have no use for them, although no library contains merely useful books. I quit re-reading them decades ago. But there are many reasons for books to be collected. I moved on to obsessions with writers less old-fashioned and less overly lyrical, although not before his lyricism infected my own style. Yet even for me, Bradbury is too breathless and too wordy (although not chatty like Harlan Ellison). He wrote terrible poetry. He became a cranky old man. Film and TV adaptations of his work are, by and large, bad. I now consider him (along with his contemporaries Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein) to be a branch of Young Adult (i.e., children’s) literature. But I still give his books a treasured pride of place on my shelves, which overflow with his successors. Strangely, most of my adult favorites also begin with the letter “B”: Burroughs, Ballard, Borges, Bowles … but Bradbury got to me first.