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Becoming Ray Bradbury Hardcover – August 4, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Eller shows how Bradbury found his vocation in a private world of mimeographed fanzines and couch-surfing, of transcontinental trips to the very first SF conventions, of the intense rivalries and controversies of a small enclosed world. . . . Eller’s excellent account makes clear that one of the reasons why Bradbury came to seem an important new voice is that he was never as naive a writer as literary patrons such as Christopher Isherwood and Aldous Huxley may have assumed.”Times Literary Supplement

"Every page is packed with fascinating material about one of this country’s most beloved writers."--The Washington Post, Michael Dirda

"A stunningly good examination of what in Ray's life turned him into the unique, individual writer he became."--Huffington Post

 "A very Bradburyian biography."--SFRA Review


"Eller's work is thorough and enlightening on the subject of one of science fiction's greatest minds.  Highly recommended not just for Bradbury fans but for all students of science fiction."--Library Journal

"A treasury of otherwise unavailable information. . . . Fans of Bradbury will find this book a fascinating and revealing look into his life and work."--Science Fiction Studies


About the Author

Jonathan R. Eller is a professor of English at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis, the senior textual editor of the Institute for American Thought, and the cofounder of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies at IUPUI. He is the coauthor of Ray Bradbury: The Life of Fiction and the textual editor of The Collected Stories of Ray Bradbury, Volume 1: 1938-1943.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 360 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press; 1st Edition edition (August 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252036298
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252036293
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #607,441 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This biography is the first in three volumes. It details Ray Bradbury's early life and who influenced and mentored him, both in the science fiction and fantasy realm as well the literary, philosophical and psychological sources who shaped his thinking and aesthetics. As other reviews noted, Dr. Eller's biography bridges the scholarly insights and detailed information in one of the most readable books available. Where some scholars mire the reader down, this one does not. Dr. Eller understands that his audience is both scholars and fans and is able to address the needs and concerns of both without compromising the integrity of his work. For those interested, especially in the early shaping of Bradbury, Dr. Eller has some previously unpublished photographs of Bradbury in group shots with other early pioneers of the science fiction and fantasy, including one which Robert Heinlein.

For more on this particular work, see this review: [...]

And for more on Dr. Eller, you might want to visit the Center for Ray Bradbury studies' site:
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Format: Hardcover
This is the first of three volumes of a “literary biography” of Bradbury, which will be an essential permanent text for future students of Bradbury and of the science fiction/fantasy field which Bradbury is (sort of) a part of. He never considered himself to be a science fiction writer at all. Eller makes a strong point that Bradbury was the first American writer to expand beyond the previous pulp fiction limitations placed on the early SF writers.

Eller’s focus in this first volume is on Bradbury’s sources and influences, along with his friendships with Ed Hamilton, Jack Williamson, Leigh Brackett, Henry Kuttner, and Catherine L. Moore, who were his early writing mentors. Since Eller has three volumes to work with (Volume 2 is coming out in August, 2014 and Volume 3 is underway), he can get into details about Bradbury’s reading, education, and mentoring that Sam Weller did not have time for. (Sam Weller, the author of the also excellent *The Bradbury Chronicles*. On the other hand, Weller spent more time describing Bradbury’s family and childhood in the Midwest.)

You might guess that a discussion of favorite authors and sources of inspiration would be dry, but Eller makes it fascinating. He has a lively writing style, and his own long friendship with Bradbury gives him plenty of entertaining stories and refreshing insight. We learn about his inspiration gained by reading well-known authors like Katherine Anne Porter, Hemingway, Steinbeck, and dozens of others. But I also learned about authors I had only vaguely known. One of the biggest influences on *Fahrenheit 451* was the post-WWII novel, *Darkness at Noon* by Arthur Koestler.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Categorizing this book as a biography is almost misleading. There is not a lot of “traditional” biographical information here that one would expect. There is very little about his youth, his parents, his friends, his wife, his life—unless they had impact on his writing. This is the biography of a writer in its purest sense: it is a biography of writing.

In this first volume of a projected three volume series, Professor Eller shows us the birth of a writer. We learn of the influences of growing up in Illinois and California and traveling in Mexico on his themes. We see him get involved in writing in high school and make connections in the world of science fiction and publishing. We learn of his success at a young age getting published in the science fiction pulps and his push towards getting his writing in the slicks.

More than this, we learn of Bradbury’s habits as a writer. We see him learn to develop his own style. We watch as he grows into a master of the short story and struggle with developing the skills necessary to a novelist. His propensity towards rewrite and revision—a sign of his perfectionism—often frustrated his plans and his publishers. And, anyone familiar with Bradbury will know that his early “novels” like The Martian Chronicles are mainly collections of previous published stories which he provided with linking narratives. Even Fahrenheit 451, arguably his best and most famous novel started as a short story he ultimately expanded upon.

This volume takes us up to the publication of Fahrenheit 451, when Bradbury will vault into fame. For anyone interested in the world of writing and in Bradbury’s writing in particular, this a book not to be missed. (I count myself among those thus interested. I was fortunate enough to encounter Mr.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Jonathan Eller has succeeded in doing I never thought possible -- make Ray Bradbury boring. I disagree with the other reviews. From the layout of the book -- more like a scholarly text than a popular book, to the writing style and haughty evaluations, this book is a complete turnoff. Imagine, critiquing how Bradbury wrote as a 10th grader. Stories were derivative at that age? Shocking. I've been a Bradbury fan for many years, and oneof my prize possessions is his autograph in "I Sing the Body Electric." I'd like to read an entertaining, informative biography. This isn't it.
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