Friday, July 23, 2010

Listen to the Echoes

I was at a party last night, doing my usual ridiculous thing -- avoiding it, when I picked up a journal and started reading a lengthy interview with Ray Bradbury. (This was to celebrate a book of Ray Bradbury interviews, hosted by The Paris Review.)

I thought I'd read a little, drink a little, and, then, if the two editors I knew who were helping host the soiree weren't presently freed up, leave, you know, French. But the interview was so charming, I ended up cozying into this long, brown leather couch with some bourbon, immensely enjoying the fact that I was essentially sitting in on a very entertaining, very full conversation with Mr. Fahrenheit 451 -- as opposed to the usual unnerving party staccato.

Several pages into it, a man set his coat down on the chair in front of me. I looked up and smiled politely. As we shook hands, I couldn't help but excitedly ask, "Have you read this interview with Ray Bradbury?" His answer was the best I could've ever hoped for: "I wrote it." His name is Sam Weller, and he spent ten years of his life working on two books about Bradbury: The Bradbury Chronicles and now Listen to the Echoes (with a foreward by the Pixies' Black Francis, no less!).

A highlight:
Q: did receive the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. How important was that for you?

A: It was a fantastic evening. There was a real problem getting back to my hotel room, though. The hotel where they held the ceremony in New York was so huge, it filled me with despair. Since my stroke, I walk very slowly. I saw a sign that night that said: NEXT RESTROOM, TWO HUNDRED AND EIGHTY MILES. The registration desk was on the eighth floor. You have to wait ten minutes for an elevator just to go up and register! That night some of the women were taking me back to my room and I said, For God's sake, where's the men's room? We couldn't find one. One of the girls said, There's a potted palm over there, why don't you go use it? So I went over. Nobody saw me. At least I don't think so.

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