"Crap! I wish I hadn't seen Ricky on the sidewalk."

"You will be fine for 31 minutes. You will be dead in 32 minutes."

Monday, May 20, 2013


The Golden Apples of the Sun (Bantam, 1961)
I grew up in a house with a library.

Big, built-in shelves, floor to ceiling, lined with books. There were cabinets, too.  One cabinet held my father's advertising magazines (Print, Graphis, etc.) and another cabinet held a bowling trophy and stacks of Playboy

It was the third cabinet, the one in the middle, that held the paperback books.  My father liked science fiction, so it was loaded with Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke, and Heinlein. 

I wanted to be like my father but also not like my father.  I was never that into science fiction, but I loved The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits and I tried to find the writers who inspired those shows. 

My father didn't have any Charles Beaumont or Richard Matheson, but I found those books later, on my own. He had Fredric Brown, which was a big deal to me, and he had Ray Bradbury.  

Fahrenheit 451 (Ballantine, 1967)
This Bantam edition of The Golden Apples of the Sun promises "stories of weird, beautiful and wonderfully improbable people, places, and things" and it delivers the goods.

More than thirty years later, I still remember the off-his-rocker murderer from "The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl," frantically trying to cover his tracks by polishing everything in his victim's house, mostly things he couldn't possibly have left fingerprints on. I remember the poor sap in "A Sound of Thunder" who pays big money to hunt dinosaurs with a time machine and the unforeseen results of stepping off the path and killing a butterfly.  Zoinks!  I remember the simple illustrations by Joe Mugnaini.  

Even as a kid, I knew that among the science fiction writers of that era, Bradbury was a kind of poet.

This movie tie-in edition of Fahrenheit 451 from Ballantine reminds me how disappointed I was when I first saw Truffaut's film adaptation (1966). How old was I when I watched it on television? Twelve? Thirteen?

I knew something about film history, but French cinema was still very much a mystery. I didn't know from Truffaut or Julie Christie or Oskar Werner, didn't know that I would come to appreciate all three of them over time.

Is the film flawed?  Of course it is. Still, I like Bernard Herrmann's score and Nicolas Roeg's camerawork, two aspects that were surely lost on me at the time.

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