Required Reading: Neil Gaiman’s Tribute to Ray Bradbury

Today’s required reading is The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury, by Neil Gaiman, an incredible and moving excerpt from an upcoming Bradbury tribute anthology, Shadow Show: All-New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury, which comes out July 10th. You can also hear him read it on Amanda’s SoundCloud account or read his blog posts on the matter here and here, which are also beautiful.

Ray Bradbury died on June 5th at the age of 91 as Venus was transiting the sun, mythic to the end. May his words reverberate through history forever.

Here Neil Gaiman explains the background of his perfect eulogy, originally written as a birthday present to the author (may we all be so lucky to receive such a gift):

I wanted to write about Ray Bradbury. I wanted to write about him in the way that he wrote about Poe in “Usher II” — a way that drove me to Poe.

I was going to read something in an intimate theatre space, very late at night, during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. My wife, Amanda, and I were hosting a midnight show of songs and readings. I promised myself that I would finish it in time to read it to forty people seated on sofas and on cushions on the floor in a tiny, beautiful room that normally contained the Belt Up Theatre Company’s intimate plays.

Very well, it would be a monologue, if I was going to read it.

The inspiration came from forgetting a friend of mine. He died a decade ago. And I went to look in my head for his name, and it was gone. I knew everything else about him — the periodicals he had written for, his favourite brand of bourbon. I could have recited every conversation he and I had ever had, told you what we talked about. I could remember the names of the books he had written.

But his name was gone. And it scared me. I waited for his name to return, promised myself I wouldn’t Google it, would just wait and remember. But nothing came. It was as if there was a hole in the universe the size of my friend. I would walk home at night trying to think of his name, running through names in alphabetical order. “Al? No. Bob? No. Charles? Chris? Not them . . .”

And I thought, What if it were an author? What if it was everything he’d done? What if everyone else had forgotten him too?

I wrote the story by hand. I finished it five minutes before we had to leave the house to go to the theatre. I was a mass of nerves — I’d never read something to an audience straight out of the pen.

When I read it, I finished it with a recital of the whole alphabet.

Then I typed it out and sent it to Ray for his ninety-first birthday.

I was there at his seventieth birthday, in the Natural History Museum in London.

It was, like everything else about the man and his work, unforgettable.

— Neil Gaiman

artpost: the green cathedral

The nave of York Minster has been sown with 1,500 square meters of grass lawn.

“The purpose for the so-called “living carpet” is the York Minster Rose Dinner, to be held Friday night on the royally frivolous occasion of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Over 900 guests are expected to wine and dine on the lawn, which, does, in fact, require maintenance (see the lawnmower). The “carpet” was grown in recycled felt then installed in successive layers”

fifteen seconds from last saturday

“He shook me awake saying, The most horrible thing has happened. The most horrible thing has happened! Y- just sucked N-‘s dick. I took a video.” The porch was crowded with people sharing cigarettes and thin beer in red disposable plastic cups. The woman telling the story shook her head, laughing a little, her black tank top beginning to slip from one shoulder. “And then he showed it to me, the video, right there on the little screen.” Her audience, a woman with short blue and silver hair and matching make-up, pretty like she just sucked down an electric milkshake, nodded as if she wasn’t quite sure what she’d just gotten into then looked over to Y-. A strong, swarthy man, dark haired and handsome in a rough sort of way, Y- is an incredible creature, a literal tomcat, endlessly affectionate, but with a streak of easy, distractible violence when he’s been drinking, a living testament to Hunter S. Thompson’s writing. When he talks, he sounds just like Tom Waits. “Why would you do that?” the blue woman asked him, incredulous, but wary, tight, as if she didn’t want to admit she was curious or maybe about to laugh. He shrugged, as expressive as a train-wreck at a thousand frames per second, and replied, very matter-of-fact, “Because N- said I could have sex with her if I sucked her boyfriend’s dick and then they gave me a yellow pill that they said was ecstasy and it made me gay.”


Circus Contraption – Love Makes The World Go ‘Round

“Love makes the world go ’round, or so I’ve been told and I think I believe it. And when we decide to enlighten the wise, the world will be happy again.”

My endless gratitude to those who also attended the Memorial tonight. I’ve never experienced anything like it.

You are the beautiful, brave people who made their songs true.

failing to find

I’m supposed to be writing, everyone says so, (all the important people, at any rate,) but I’m so dreadfully wrecked from the terrible events of the past few weeks, including my birthday, that I feel like I’m drowning every time I turn to painting it down in words.

I’ve almost been too close to everything to feel it, the way a very bad burn initially seems cold, vacillating between struggling to connect and complete and total collapse. Brittle, someone said a few months ago, and they’re completely correct. I’ve spent so long holding everything together that the barest whiff of haven and I fall to my knees, exhausted, in tears, so grateful for a bit of safety that I can barely speak. This hasn’t been the worst birthday I’ve ever had, that falls to last year’s incredible, mind bending disaster in New York, but this one won’t be far off.

I came down to Seattle last Sunday to get away from the misery of Vancouver and spend a day at Folklife, returning the next day, only to discover myself back on a bus a couple of days later, travelling south towards murdered friends. I’ve been staying with Tony this time, trying to plug into the broken community, discard my isolation, shrug it off like a jacket in the company of other mourners, and flush myself of some of this immobilizing heartache.

So far it’s been difficult to find traction. Holding a stranger tight at the Hazard Factory after party, her black clown nose marking her as one of what I think of as Us, our eyes screwed shut against the truth and the fire. Grabbing Joel into a hug at the end of the Honk! Fest memorial march to keep ourselves standing as we uselessly fought tears in the middle of the crowd. Those moments gave me what I needed, people to reach out to who met me half-way, but the rest of the time I’ve been swept along, bouncing from one event to the next, (Honk! Fest West, flaming tetherball, the Seattle Science Festival, Mini Maker Faire, anything to get me out of my own depressing head, to make sure I never stop long enough to sink), desperate for connection and failing.

Thankfully the gathering at Hale’s Palladium tonight should do the trick. I can ill afford to spend more time away from job hunting, but a night devoted entirely to Drew and Joe and their beautiful lives is something I need to celebrate.