Commentary, Non-Fiction

Death Day – A Tribute to Ray Bradbury

Celebrating the life of Ray Bradbury

Now I must say, without weeping, how much this writer means to me. Ray Bradbury has been the strongest inspiration to me as a writer, or even as a human, persevering through the unimaginative obstacles, and he is the true inspiration for this project of Drunken Library. Bradbury was a novelist, short story writer, essayist, playwright, screenwriter and poet. He was a self-educated man, an idea enthusiast, and one who charmed you with such fun and imagination that you felt like a child reborn. Reading Bradbury is like a soft blow of ocean mist after the morning rain has cleared. bradbury

Ray Bradbury was born in Waukegan, Illinois and fell in love with reading when he was three years old. He began reading comics and fantasy, then hoped to grow up to be all the characters that he read about. After graduating from Los Angeles High School, he started religiously attending the public library, from which he says that he graduated. The library educated and fulfilled him. He was most successful in science fiction, screenplays, always defending the imagination of the individual.

In my later years I have looked in the mirror each day and found a happy person staring back. Occasionally I wonder why I can be so happy. The answer is that every day of my life I’ve worked only for myself and for the joy that comes from writing and creating. The image in my mirror is not optimistic, but the result of optimal behavior.

Favorite Quotes:

If you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you, and you’ll never learn.

Stuff your eyes with wonder, he said, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.

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The things that you do should be things that you love, and the things that you love should be things that you do.

Incomplete List of Suggested Reading:

The Martian Chronicles (1950)

The Illustrated Man (1951)

Fahrenheit 451 (1953)

Dandelion Wine (1957)

Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962)

I Sing the Body Electric (1969)

The Cat’s Pajama’s (2004) – Collection of Short Stories

Interesting Facts:

His formal education ended at high school; he never attended a college, but a library.

When he was a boy, Bradbury was tapped on the shoulder by the sword of a carnival man and told to “Live forever!” which inspired his works for a lifetime.

Bradbury was afraid of the dark until he was almost twenty years old and he never obtained a driver’s license.

Related Articles:

You can live in Ray Bradbury’s house. . . http://www.latimes.com/books/jacketcopy/la-et-jc-ray-bradbury-house-20140520-story.html

A fantastic interview to know him better … http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/6012/the-art-of-fiction-no-203-ray-bradbury

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Poetry

“Shut Not Your Doors to Me Proud Libraries” – Walt Whitman

Shut not your doors to me, proud libraries,
For that which was lacking among you all, yet needed most, I bring;
A book I have made for your dear sake, O soldiers,
And for you, O soul of man, and you, love of comrades;
The words of my book nothing, the life of it everything;
A book separate, not link’d with the rest, nor felt by the intellect;
But you will feel every word, O Libertad! arm’d Libertad!
It shall pass by the intellect to swim the sea, the air,
With joy with you, O soul of man.

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Commentary, Non-Fiction

Death Day – A Tribute to Herman Melville

Herman-Melville

Celebrating the life of Herman Melville

Born a New Yorker in 1819 on August 1st, Herman Melville lived to the age of 72, until passing away on September 28, 1981. He spent most of his younger years working diligently to alleviate the debt that riddled his family, eventually finding himself aboard a merchant ship as a cabin boy. His life continued to be filled with sailing adventures, voyages to the South Seas and encounters with the present-day French Polynesian islands inhabited with cannibalistic civilizations. His writings were inspired mostly from his journeys, but were driven by a critical philosophy of American culture and society.

Herman Melville

I recommend all adventurous youths who abandon vessels in romantic islands during the rainy season to provide themselves with umbrellas.

Melville wed Elizabeth Shaw in 1847, continuing on to have two sons and two daughters. He had a brief but pivotal friendship with American writer, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and continued to publish short stories and novels throughout his life. In his later years, he worked as a customs guard on the ship harbors, writing as a habit on nights, and weekends, exploring the world of poetry too, up until the final moments of his life.

Favorite quotes:

“It is not down in any map; true places never are.”

“Nature is nobody’s ally.”

“Thou wine art the friend of the friendless, though a foe to all.”

Incomplete list of suggested reading:

  • Typee (1846)
  • Omoo (1847)
  • Redburn (1849)
  • White-Jacket (1850)
  • Moby Dick (1851)
  • Pierre (1852)
  • “Bartleby the Scrivener” (1853)
  • The Encantadas” (1854)
  • “Benito Cereno” (1855)
  • Israel Potter: His Fifty Years of Exile (1855)
  • The Confidence-Man (1857)

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Interesting fact:

Melville’s New York publisher’s house underwent a devastating fire in 1853 that destroyed most of his books.

Share a quote or excerpt of Herman Melville today in the comments or with your online community using the tag #HappyDeathDayMelville 

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Commentary, Non-Fiction

Death Day – A Tribute to Allen Ginsberg

Celebrating the life of Allen Ginsberg – Easter Sunday

On April 5, 1997, Allen Ginsberg, esteemed American poet who spanned influence over multiple generations, died from a combination of liver cancer and hepatitis. At the eve of his death, close friends, family and old lovers spent the night with him at his apartment in the East Village in New York City. Once he passed, Buddhist chants filled the air for hours until his they believed his spirit fully left his body.

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Allen Ginsberg, a true activist, mentor and poet.

“Poetry is the one place where people can speak their original human mind. It is the outlet for people to say in public what is known in private.” – Ginsberg

Allen Ginsberg was paramount to the Beat movement as a voice against militarism and political oppression. He was part of the counterculture publicly speaking out for the sexually and politically oppressed.

He is most known for exercising his freedom of speech in his poem “Howl” that spoke on homosexual relationships and the times of the American generation.

He studied at Colombia University where he made friends that shared his “new vision” and embarked on the epic journey of the poetic, beatific, buddhist life that still influences generations of artists today.

Favorite Quotes:

“I really believe, or want to believe, really I am nuts, otherwise I’ll never be sane.”

“Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness.”

Incomplete list of suggested reading:

  • Howl & Other Poems (1956)
  • Empty Mirror: Early Poems (1961)
  • The Yage Letters (1963)
  • The Fall of America: Poems of These States (1973)*
  • Illuminated Poems (1996)

*National Book Award for Poetry Winner

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“America I’m putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.” – Ginsberg

Interesting Fact:

Ginsberg and Anne Waldman helped found the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, which was started by Ginsberg’s biggest spiritual mentor, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

 

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Commentary

Death Day – A Tribute to John Steinbeck

Celebrating the Life of John Steinbeck

On December 20, 1968 John Steinbeck passed away from heart disease in his humble abode located in New York City. Steinbeck was best known for his literature on California, the working class and the land that ruled them. He was a Stanford student without ever completing his degree. He worked, wrote, and inspired American writers for ages to come.

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I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit. – Steinbeck

Favorite Quotes: 

“In utter loneliness a writer tries to explain the inexplicable.”

“The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.”

Incomplete List of Suggested Reading:

  • Cup of Gold (1929)
  • The Pastures of Heaven (1932)
  • To a God Unknown (1933)
  • Tortilla Flat (1935)
  • In Dubious Battle (1936)
  • Of Mice and Men (1937)
  • The Long Valley (1938)
  • The Grapes of Wrath (1939)*
  • Sea of Cortez (1941)
  • The Moon Is Down (1942)
  • Cannery Row (1945)
  • The Pearl (1947)
  • Burning Bright (1950)
  • East of Eden (1952)
  • The Winter of Our Discontent (1961)
  • Travels with Charley: In Search of America (1962)**
*Pulitzer Prize Winner
**Nobel Prize for Literature

Interesting Fact:

Steinbeck visited Vietnam in 1967 to report on the war where he spent a night on watch for his two sons and the platoon to sleep.

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