Friday, September 18, 2009

Ray Bradbury


American author Ray Bradbury is still writing his "speculative fiction" despite a stroke in 1999. His 1957 novel Dandelion Wine is one of my favorite books, and there is a chapter in it that I find quite evocative. An old man named Colonel Freeleigh calls regularly from his wheelchair to a friend in Mexico City and asks him to hold the telephone out the window so he can hear the sounds of the street. The colonel explains, "You are all there, the people in the city. I can't believe I was ever among you. When you are away from a city, it becomes a fantasy. Any town, New York, Chicago, with its people, becomes improbable with distance. Just as I am improbable here, in Illinois, in a small town by a quiet lake. All of us improbable to one another because we are not present to one another. And so it is good to hear the sounds, and know that Mexico City is still there and the people moving and living..." You can read most of this chapter on Google Books (search "Mexico City" and start reading on p. 130) and you can hear the sounds of the Mexico City street on sound-effect.com (click arrow to listen to 127-second preview). I first read this story as a teenager and was reminded of it while talking to Jody Arlington when she lived in Madrid in the late 1990s, so I reread it and faxed her a copy. I thought of it again last night when imagining what it would sound like to be on one of the ships in my rather tame post of yesterday...

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