Thursday, October 06, 2011

Live, forever!

{Photo by rocketlass.} As I've explained before, October country for me, like for countless other readers, is Ray Bradbury country. Rather than a sci-fi writer, for me Bradbury is much more a writer of small-town ghostliness, of shadows made animate, of the inherent creepiness of quiet isolation. I hope--if I can just tame the beast that is, right now, my day job--to put together a post later this month about how Bradbury at times employs a unique nostalgia for a specific kind of lost, small town terror. But for now I'll just offer the following, from Sam Weller's fascinating book of interviews with Bradbury that was published last year by Stop Smiling and Melville House, Listen to the Echoes:
WELLER: Circuses and carnivals were central to your childhood growing up in Illinois. What are your memories of these traveling shows, and why do you suppose they were so important to your development?

BRADBURY: Again, it's all passion. I was in love with circuses and their mystery. I suppose the most important memory is of Mr. Electrico. On Labor Day weekend, 1932, when I was twelve years old, he came to my hometown with the Dill Brothers Combined Shows--combined out of what, I wondered? He was a performer sitting in an electric chair and a stagehand pulled a switch and he was charged with fifty thousand volts of pure electricity. Lightning flashed in his eyes and his hair stood on end. I sat below, in the front row, and he reached down with a flaming sword full of electricity and he tapped me on both shoulders and then the tip of my nose and he cried, "Live, forever!" And I thought, "God, that's wonderful. How do you do that?"
Anyone who's read Something Wicked This Way Comes--especially anyone who read it as many times as I did in my teens--will perk up at that story. And, believe it or not, it gets wilder from there; the Mr. Electrico story on its own is worth seeking out Listen to the Echoes for.
I knew something important had happened to me that day because of Mr. Electrico. I felt changed. And so I went home and within days I began to write.
As October draws in, it seems worth noting that Bradbury, 91 and counting, is still with us. Live, forever.

1 comment:

  1. I love this post! I love all of your October posts. We love many of the same things, and in fact I found you by googling a photo to use for my Hallooween post. I'd typed in Bradbury's October Country, because I feel the same as you do about him, about his deliciously dark stories.

    So glad I found you! The photo I used was credited and I linked it back to your site.