Monday, July 12, 2010

Listening to those echoes

I've spent a few days reading Sam Weller's Listen to the Echoes, his collection of Bradbury interviews, and companion to his earlier biography The Bradbury Chronicles.

I quite like the book, although I don't think I have really learned anything new from it. That's not to criticise the book, as I'm sure many Bradbury readers will find something new here. It's just that when you've read Steven Aggelis' Conversations with Ray Bradbury and Bradbury's own Bradbury Speaks, it all becomes a little familiar.

I quite like one of Bradbury's phrases which crops up now and again throughout the book, which is something like "get your work done". It seems to be his response to all sorts of questions to do with coping with what life throws at you, and yet Bradbury claims not to be a workaholic. Indeed, his description of a typical day's work would support his non-workaholic claim. However, he just must be under-emphasising how much effort he would put into re-working his stories, as all the manuscripts I've seen show a lot of careful and considered deletions and edits.

What I didn't like about Listen to the Echoes is the endless catalogue of famous people Ray has known. If the famous people are worth discussing, I would have liked to see them discussed at length, not just used as a trivial throwaway.

But what I did like about the book is the breadth of its coverage. Bradbury isn't just asked about celebrity friends, or his own work, or his daily life; he is also asked about literature, poetry, painting, music, pop culture and high art.

Echoes is a useful sourcebook for anyone looking for quotable quotes from Bradbury, and has a good index. You just have to bear in mind that these are the views of an 89-year-old looking backwards. Anyone interested in a rounded view of how Bradbury sees the world would be well advised to also read Aggelis' Conversations with Ray Bradbury, which compiles interviews conducted over many decades of Bradbury's life and career.

Sam Weller is maintaining a blog to tie in with the book, which has recently included this essay by Bradbury on the death of a feline friend.

No comments: