It wouldn’t matter if I had never illustrated “Fahrenheit 451.” Ray Bradbury’s effect on my life would have still been immense. We read “The Sound of Thunder” in my 7th grade English class to the best of my memory, and that was the catalyst that sent me searching for more books in that vein. We had an oddball English teacher (what other kind are there?). That is to say, other kids said he was odd. Perhaps even… gay!? He had his own private library to supplement the schools (very lacking) official library. There was something subversive about his stash of literature, and thus I borrowed more books out of his collection than I did out of the school’s. Sure I read some trash. I read a book about every Big Foot story and sighing that ever (supposedly) happened. I knew every Sasquatch theory there was when I was 12. I also took out a book by Arthur C. Clark called “Childhood’s End,” which blew my young mind. But the best book by far that I took out of that English teacher’s library was a big book of Ray Bradbury’s short stories. I don’t remember which collection it was, but that summer and that book are unforgettable to me. When it’s 94 degrees out and humid I always wonder if the murder rate is rising. When I see rubbernecks at accidents I get a chill. First because of the accident and then because of what Bradbury thought that crowd was up to. And when I see a carnival I wonder if they have a “Jar,” and how I would avoid it. But mostly, I remember that thanks to an odd ball English teacher (who also taught us how to spot continuity errors in Buster Keaston movies) and Mr. Ray Bradbury I learned to seek out books. I learned how much I love stories.
Thank you oddball 7th grade English teacher, and thank you Ray Bradbury!