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The Bradbury Chronicles: The Life of Ray Bradbury (P.S.) Paperback – February 21, 2006

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Product Details

  • Series: P.S.
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (February 21, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060545844
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060545840
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #309,304 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Journalist Weller pays tribute to an American icon in this ebullient authorized biography of Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles, who was born in Waukegan, Ill., on August 22, 1920. ("I remember the day I was born," Bradbury claims in what is perhaps a sign of his genius—or of the price of access to him.) In highly readable prose, Weller surveys Bradbury's ancestors and family, his boyhood move to Hollywood, his introduction to science fiction and fantasy and his early writing attempts, which reflect the themes that pervade his more mature work: "nostalgia, loneliness, lost love, and death." If Weller places Bradbury in a pantheon occupied by Shakespeare, Melville, Dickens and Poe, he also mentions more than one extramarital affair and his hero's poor eating habits. Highlights include Bradbury's collaboration with John Huston on the film Moby Dick, his receiving the National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters in 2000 and his recent feud with Michael Moore over the title of Moore's documentary film Fahrenheit 9/11. A serious critical biography will have to wait until after the master's death, but for now this adoring portrait will satisfy most Bradbury fans. Agent, Judith Ehrlich. (Apr. 5)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–Weller focuses on Bradbury's professional successes and difficulties. After writing a few stories for pulp magazines, some of which were self-published, Bradbury suddenly found his pieces anthologized in The Best American Short Stories (Houghton) and his work in demand from national magazines and publishers. A strong work ethic, along with a little luck and a lot of charm, carried him through a long, successful career. Aside from the masterworks like Something Wicked This Way Comes (Bantam, 1983) and Fahrenheit 451 (Ballantine, 1987) that he's most known for, Bradbury also wrote for television, worked as a script writer for director John Huston's version of Moby Dick, and even served as a consultant to Walt Disney for what would become the EPCOT Center. Weller's research–based on interviews with Bradbury as well as family members and colleagues–is almost exhaustive in its detail, and he does a fine job of presenting the facts of his subject's unique life. The lively, conversational prose brings out the writer's winning personality and turns his struggles and successes into a highly readable story. The presentation comes off as a little one-sided at times, but this is a quibble about a book that, overall, is informative, enjoyable, and inspiring.–Matthew L. Moffett, Northern Virginia Community College, Annandale
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Sam Weller is the author of Listen to the Echoes and The Bradbury Chronicles: The Life of Ray Bradbury. His is the co-editor of the Bram Stoker Award winning Shadow Show: All-New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury. He has lectured across the United States on the life and work of Bradbury. Weller is the former Midwest Correspondent for Publishers Weekly magazine. He has written for The Paris Review, National Public Radio's All Things Considered, Slate, Huffington Post and others. His fiction has appeared in numerous magazines, journals and books. Weller is the associate chair and an associate professor in the Creative Writing Department at Columbia College Chicago.

Customer Reviews

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Something that Ray, a true professional, was able to do as well.
Julia A. Martin
I hope this is the first of many books on the incredible life and times of Ray Bradbury by Sam Weller!
Lenay Stober
The magician confronted him during his performance and shouted to him "Live forever!"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Duffy on July 10, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Ray Bradbury's gift of total recall and a host of sources provided Sam Weller with the abundant factual and anecdotal materials that comprise this entertaining biography of the science fiction great. During his lifetime, Bradbury's brilliant and quirky A-1 personality dictated incessant interaction with acquaintances, associates, and professional connections. He channeled his ruminations into his art, and as he was a prolific writer, he probably never had a thought or experience that didn't eventually work its way into a story. Ergo, Weller avoids the jumble that so often overtakes a biography when the excitement of the subject's beginnings inevitably gives way to mundane facts (and in this case, they're ample) that relate to the oeuvre. Weller capably intersperses these details with appropriate tidbits all the way to the conclusion, and the result is a sympathetic, amusing depiction of the master of sci-fi that holds the reader to the end.

Seminal influences in Bradbury's early years in Waukegan, Illinois include Buck Rogers and Aunt Neva, who nurtured his imagination through the OZ books, Alice in Wonderland, and Poe. Radio, vaudeville magicians, and the pulps also fed his growing passion for fantasy. Weller paints Bradbury's later formative years against the backdrop of Los Angeles and Hollywood of the 30's and 40's, where his family had emigrated. Here, he saw movie stars at openings, and sneaked into the studios and back lots whenever he could. At that time, LA was to science fiction as Hollywood was to movies, and influential writers and contacts became accessible to the budding writer.

Name-dropping abounds, and the saga of screenwriting Moby Dick in Ireland for John Huston gives rise to some of the funnier anecdotes. Weller highlights Bradbury's genius to include his sensitivity and sentimentality in this portrait of one of the most popular American writers of the 20th century.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Stacey Cochran on December 29, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Sam Weller's The Bradbury Chronicles is a well researched, upbeat biography of Ray Bradbury. Weller's enthusiasm is both his strength, and, at times, his weakness. If you're looking for a general overview of Ray Bradbury's life and the things that led him to be a writer, this is an excellent starting place.

The strongest part of the biography is the description of Ray's family history and his early life in Waukegan, Illinois. Weller describes Ray's grandfather's history as a printer and his Aunt Neva's artistic interests as strong influences towards Ray's decision to become a writer. Equally detailed are Ray's teen years when his family moved back and forth from Illinois to Arizona, before finally settling in Los Angeles, California.

L.A. and Hollywood played a huge role in influencing Ray's decision to become a writer. During his teen years, he befriended George Burns and actress Ida Lupino, and he often hung out outside the gates of major studios like Paramount and MGM in order to get autographs from the stars. He was a fan of films and longed to be accepted into the film community.

Of particular interest to me were the years in Ray's life between high school and his early thirties. Weller does an excellent job of describing Ray's early connections in the local sci-fi community in Los Angeles, as well as Ray's trips to the World Science Fiction Convention. We learn how he got an agent and published his first few books.

Where the biography slips a little are the years following Ray's triumphant (though difficult) work with John Huston on the film version of Moby Dick. Weller gives us a general overview of the years between 1955-70, but he flashes forward and back whole decades at a time and the details are not at thorough as in the early part of the book.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on August 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
For decades, Ray Bradbury has inspired a vast array of creative minds --- from writer Stephen King to film director Steven Spielberg, from rock guitarist Ace Frehley to astronaut Buzz Aldrin --- and now we get a very intimate look into the story behind the man. Sam Weller was given incredible access to Bradbury, his wife Marguerite, and many of his friends and family in an effort to compile this amazing look at the moments that built the framework of Bradbury's creativity.

Born in 1920 in Waukegan, Illinois, Ray Bradbury was a child of a father touched by wanderlust and big dreams at a time when the Great Depression had a stranglehold on the country. From Illinois to Arizona to Hollywood, Bradbury's family searched for work. Moving to various areas of the country, he never lost his simple midwest roots, which can be seen in many of his stories as he returns time and again to simpler times in Illinois autumns.

As a young boy, Bradbury was inspired by the adventures of Buck Rogers, Tarzan, John Carter of Mars, and a multitude of other fantastical wonders in print and on film. Weller shows us a young man who devoured books and always found the means, even in the hardest of times, to make his way into the movie theater. From these creations he felt the pull toward his own imagination, the results of which has entertained generations of readers.

In 1932, Bradbury had an unexpected encounter with sideshow attraction Mr. Electrico. The magician confronted him during his performance and shouted to him "Live forever!" Though Bradbury will no doubt have to leave us (hopefully none too soon), in the end he will have left behind a literary legacy that will ensure Mr. Electrico's bold command holds true.
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