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Maybe The Best Gift Ever

So, I don’t know if it’s much of a secret, how I feel about Ray Bradbury. His R Is For Rocket is among the first books I remember reading in my life… and Dandelion Wine, S is For Space, The Illustrated Man, and The Martian Chronicles are in that primordial reading list, too, along with Edgar Rice Burroughs and Isaac Asimov.

I’ve referred to Ray Bradbury as my “story father” in some places, and here’s what I mean: I don’t write like him, so much… I have my own voice, such as it is. But he’s one of the biggest reasons I started writing in the first place. He’s the first author who gave me a sense of wonder.

I’ve met him a couple of times, in the early nineties, when he was only in his seventies, and while I’ve had other opportunities, I keep those two meetings in my heart with a kind of iconic fondness, if that’s the right way to say it.

Brave Men Run is for him, among others.

Lest you think this is some kind of eulogy before the fact, it’s not — but when that sad, sad day comes, you can bet I’ll have a lot to say.

No, I mention this because of a gift I just received from my wife.

She’s been working the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books — working her ass off, really, and dealing with a lot of logistical grief that made the last four days of her life very taxing. It’s left her exhausted.

In that time, though, through all the chaos and the demands put upon her, she managed to get me several books by Ray Bradbury, all signed, many that I don’t own signed or not, and one first edition.

Memory fades, but this is probably the finest gift I’ve ever received. Not just because these are signed editions. More for the fact that she was pulled in so many different directions this weekend, answering the demands of so many people, and she still found time to go out of her way to find these books for me. More for the fact that Ray Bradbury is so important to me as an inspiration and an influence… something I need very much these days… and she knows it.

Yeah, I got tears in my eyes.

Best gift ever. Best wife in the world.

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