People are waiting in there, thousands of people, who wrote the books. So it’s much more personal than just a book. So when you open a book, the person pops out and becomes you. You look at Charles Dickens, and you are Charles Dickens, and he is you. So you go in the library and you pull a book off the shelf, and you open it, and what are you looking for? A mirror. All of a sudden, a mirror is there and you see yourself, but your name is Charles Dickens. That’s what a library is. Or the book is Shakespeare, and so you become William Shakespeare or you become Emily Dickinson or Robert Frost or all the great poets. So you find the author who can lead you through the dark.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
“I am a librarian. I discovered me in the library. I went to find me in the library. Before I fell in love with libraries, I was just a six-year-old boy. The library fueled all of my curiosities, from dinosaurs to ancient Egypt. When I graduated from high school in 1938, I began going to the library three nights a week. I did this every week for almost ten years and finally, in 1947, around the time I got married, I figured I was done. So I graduated from the library when I was twenty-seven. I discovered that the library is the real school.”
“I don’t believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don’t have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn’t go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years… At the end of 10 years, I had read every book in the library and I’d written a thousand stories.”
I was never young. Whoever I was then is dead. I’ve always figured it that you die each day and each day is a box, you see, all numbered and neat; but never go back and lift the lids, because you’ve died a couple of thousand times in your life, and that’s a lot of corpses, each dead in a different way, each with a worse expression. Each of those days is a different you, somebody you don’t know or understand or want to understand.
You sleep only four hours a night. You go to bed at eleven and get up at three and everything is clear as crystal. You begin your day then, have your coffee, read a book for an hour, listen to the faint, far, unreal talk and music of the predawn stations and perhaps go out for a walk, always being certain to have your special police permit with you. You have been picked up before for late and unusual hours and it got to be a nuisance, so you finally got yourself a special permit. Now you can walk and whistle where you wish, hands in your pockets, heels striking the pavement in a slow, easy tempo. This has been going on since you were sixteen years old. You’re now twenty-five, and four hours a night is still enough sleep.
The winter night drifted by lamplit windows in white bits and pieces. Now the procession marched evenly, now fluttered and spun. But there was a continual sifting and settling, which never stopped filling a deep abyss with silence.
The house was locked and bolted at every seam, window, door, and hatch. Lamps bloomed softly in each room. The house held its breath, drowsed and warm. Radiators sighed. A refrigerator hummed quietly. In the library, under the lime green hurricane lamp, a white hand moved, a pen scratched, a face bent to the ink, which dried in the false summer air.
Upstairs in bed, an old woman lay reading. Across the upper hall, her daughter sorted linen in a cupboard room. On the attic floor above, a son, half through thirty years, tapped delicately at a typewriter, added yet another paper ball to the growing heap on the rug.
Downstairs, the kitchen maid finished the supper wine-glasses, placed them with clear bell sounds onto shelves, wiped her hands, arranged her hair, and reached for the light switch.
It was then that all five inhabitants of the snowing winter night house heard the unusual sound.
The sound of a window breaking.
It was like the cracking of moon-colored ice on a midnight pond.