Perhaps Ray Bradbury is the latter-day O. Henry. He is most famous for his short stories--and short they are, rarely more than 15 pages. He attracts nonliterary readers in droves, and he has a raconteur's magnetic style. Those are O. Henry's virtues, making it quite possible to read him pleasurably today, even if you read only "The Gift of the Magi" and "The Ransom of Red Chief." Since Bradbury is 50 to 100 years closer to us, just about every one of his stories is a gas, and his selection of 100 of them is something like a lifetime supply of nitrous oxide. No matter how calculated its surprises or how sentimental its denouement, a Bradbury story typically evokes a smile and a tip o' the hat. He acknowledges in the introduction here that he is in love with writing, and it is obvious there and in every story that, what's more, he is in love with life, so that even his eeriest, most mordant stories leave one feeling wonder, not bleakness: case in point, "The Illustrated Man." Even more to that point are his Irish stories, most of them set in and around Heber Finn's pub. Characteristically Celtic compoundings of grue and glee, these are read-aloud, memorize-and-recite gems of pure gab (especially "A Wild Night in Galway"). Ray OlsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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About the Author
In a career spanning more than seventy years, Ray Bradbury, who died on June 5, 2011 at the age of 91, inspired generations of readers to dream, think, and create. A prolific author of hundreds of short stories and close to fifty books, as well as numerous poems, essays, operas, plays, teleplays, and screenplays, Bradbury was one of the most celebrated writers of our time. His groundbreaking works include Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Dandelion Wine, and Something Wicked This Way Comes. He wrote the screen play for John Huston's classic film adaptation of Moby Dick, and was nominated for an Academy Award. He adapted sixty-five of his stories for television's The Ray Bradbury Theater, and won an Emmy for his teleplay of The Halloween Tree. He was the recipient of the 2000 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the 2004 National Medal of Arts, and the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Special Citation, among many honors.
Throughout his life, Bradbury liked to recount the story of meeting a carnival magician, Mr. Electrico, in 1932. At the end of his performance Electrico reached out to the twelve-year-old Bradbury, touched the boy with his sword, and commanded, "Live forever!" Bradbury later said, "I decided that was the greatest idea I had ever heard. I started writing every day. I never stopped."