Lastly, there was a short autobiographical essay posted to the New Yorker on June 4th, and it may very well be his final work. The relevance is a bit startling, as it deals with the reminiscence of youth, life, and loss. This is the opening paragraph:
"When I was seven or eight years old, I began to read the science-fiction magazines that were brought by guests into my grandparents’ boarding house, in Waukegan, Illinois. Those were the years when Hugo Gernsback was publishing Amazing Stories, with vivid, appallingly imaginative cover paintings that fed my hungry imagination. Soon after, the creative beast in me grew when Buck Rogers appeared, in 1928, and I think I went a trifle mad that autumn. It’s the only way to describe the intensity with which I devoured the stories. You rarely have such fevers later in life that fill your entire day with emotion."
It is a short, touching piece, peppered by his unique and beautiful style of writing, and I highly recommend you read it in its entirety here.
My favorite part? He says, "fire balloons" - both in, and out of, the context of his story by the same name. Just that one image alone is so evocative, it nudges me in the direction of another world, somewhere I've never seen, but can feel tapping at my shoulder, beckoning me away. That is the power that Bradbury's writing has always had over me.
I mourn his loss today, but take heart in the fact that I still have many of his books sitting on my shelf, waiting to be read, and many more I have yet to find. The man was wonderfully prolific, producing hundreds of short stories throughout his lifetime, in addition to his novels and work in the television and film industry.
The next time you're looking for something to read, whether it's on a long trip, or just to wind down with in the evening (away from the march of technology that Bradbury seemed to be both fascinated by and to abhor), grab a well worn copy of any of his books from your local used bookstore (or perhaps your own shelf). I recommend Dandelion Wine (a summer of magic and grief through the eyes of a child) or Green Shadows, White Whale (his colorful and fictionalized account of time spent in Ireland, writing the screenplay for Moby-Dick). But really, anything of his will do.
It never takes much Bradbury to take you to that different time, that different place.