Jun 06

Why Ray Bradbury loved libraries, dedication in Paso Robles

At the Paso Robles library dedication featured speaker was author Ray Bradbury.© David Middlecamp/The Tribune

Beside his typewriter was a sign that said “Don’t Think.”
Prolific author Ray Bradbury came to the Central Coast on several occasions, Telegram-Tribune reporter Patrick O’Sullivan documented a visit to Hancock College in Oct. 1985.
“We are ideas bursting to be born,” Bradbury said. “You are the idea beasts of time.”
He advocated writing fast and furious, second-guessing or editing was not part of his creative process.
“The important thing is to explode,” said Bradbury. “Thinking is a way of preventing disasters, not preparing for the future.”
“I’m a born hysteric. I can’t stop being passionate about life — it’s too big.”
The writer opened Poly Royal in April 1988 with a design village conference and also gave a lecture at Poly over a decade earlier in May 1971.
Bradbury died Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at the age of 91.
He always had a secret fondness his heart for libraries and when the Paso Robles Library was dedicated Bradbury shared his story.
On February 27, 1995 Telegram-Tribune reporter Teresa Mariani was there:

Library a star attraction

PASO ROBLES — Ray Bradbury likes the new city library.
“The choice of wood in the library really is exquisite,” the famous American author told about 600 people who filled a tent and city block Saturday in front of the new $7 million Paso Robles City Library.
“It’s warm and inviting, I think it’s one of the most beautiful libraries I’ve been in in years,” Bradbury said.
That’s a good thing, because Bradbury spent three hours there Saturday, signing copies of his new book, “Zen and the Art of Writing.”
And copies of some of his old books, like “Fahrenheit 451,” “Dark Carnival,” “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” “The Martian Chronicles,” and anything else hundreds of San Luis Obispo County fans brought along.
Bradbury, one of the country’s best-known science fiction writers, came to the new library Saturday to be the keynote speaker at its cornerstone dedication ceremony.
The crowd listened to about 45 minutes worth of speeches from just about every dignitary in Paso Robles City government — plus two blessings from local clergymen, and a third by a member of the Masonic Order — all before hearing a sentence out of the famous author.
But Bradbury was worth the wait, telling the crowd several anecdotes about how he wrote his books and why he loves libraries.
Bradbury, 74, graduated from high school in Los Angeles in 1938. “I never made it to college,’ he said. Instead, he spent about three days a week in the downtown library in Los Angeles, reading everything he could get his hands on.
“I graduated from the library at the age of 27,” he said. When he started writing, he was so poor, he joked, “that I used to walk around the library in Los Angeles and write short stories on those little pieces of reference paper that they give you.”
He said he decided he wanted to fill a shelf in the library, and started thinking about what he wanted to fill it with. “I think there are about 28 books there now” with his name in the author’s slot, Bradbury said.
When he started writing his famous “Fahrenheit 451″ — about a future in which books are illegal and firemen aren’t charged with saving buildings but burning book stashes — two of his children were toddlers.
“We had all these babies then and I was working in my garage,” he said. “I would be typing and the children would come tap on the window and say, ‘Daddy come play!’ and I would. And our income went down.”
He needed a place to write, and noticed that the UCLA library had a basement full of typewriters for use at 10 cents an hour.
“I went and got $9 and 80 cents worth of dimes, and I wrote ‘Fahrenheit 451′ in nine days,” he said, making the audience gasp and applaud.
“Which makes it a dime novel, right?” he joked.
The crowd also found out that Bradbury does a wicked John Huston imitation.
The author said he loved Huston’s films, and always wanted to work with the great Hollywood director. After gaining some fame as a writer, he finally got his chance when Huston took him out to dinner.
Huston asked Bradbury if he wanted to go to Ireland and write the screenplay for “Moby Dick” — the classic American novel that’s big enough to use in weightlifting hand has been dreaded by American high school literature students for decades.
“I said, ‘Gee, Mr. Huston, I’ve never been able to read the damn thing,’” Bradbury recalled. “He’d never heard that before.”
Huston told Bradbury to go home, read as much of “Moby Dick” as he could overnight, and come back in the morning and tell the director whether he wanted to adapt it into a screenplay.
“I told my wife, ‘Pray for me. I’ve got to read a book tonight and give a book report on it tomorrow.’”
He did. “I got the job,’ he told the crowd. And “Moby Dick” turned into “a darn nice film. I’m proud of it.”

John Brown, left, and Clyde Dyke admire the open space in the new $ 7million library dedicated in Paso Robles. ©David Middlecamp/The Tribune

Bradbury told the audience that the city should be proud of itself for building a new library.
“I belong in a place like this. To me, libraries are the most important building in any city.”
The crowd gave Bradbury a standing ovation — then thronged inside the library building in a line hundreds of people long for a chance to get Bradbury’s autograph.
He looked quite happy about the hubbub — especially while signing books handed to him by the kids in line.
So what’s Bradbury’s favorite book? The question brought a momentary pause in mid-autograph.
“The ‘collected Prefaces of George Bernard Shaw,’” Bradbury said. “His prefaces are as brilliant and amusing as any of his plays. I think I’d take that to a desert island, along with the Bible, and have plenty to read.”

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