Neil Gaiman Reads “The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury,” His Lovely Present for Bradbury’s 91st and Final Birthday
A touching ode to friendship as a kind of mutual memory.
By Maria Popova
“It’s part of the nature of man to start with romance and build to a reality,” Ray Bradbury (August 22, 1920–June 5, 2012) observed in his forgotten 1971 conversation with Carl Sagan and Arthur C. Clarke about the future of space exploration. His long and largehearted life was animated by the romance of storytelling as he built imaginative alternate realities that expanded the scope of the possible for generations of writers and everyday dreamers alike.
On his 91st birthday, Bradbury received a most magnificent and unusual present from a kindred spirit, another of our time’s great storytellers: Neil Gaiman had written for him a story titled “The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury” — a sidewise gleam on friendship as a kind of mutual memory. Gaiman, who in his nonfiction has written beautifully about how Bradbury’s storytelling has enlarged our humanity, later contributed the story to the posthumous tribute anthology Shadow Show: Stories In Celebration of Ray Bradbury (public library), envisioned and edited by Sam Weller, Bradbury’s official biographer and most insightful interlocutor.
In this reading from the altogether wonderful An Evening With Neil Gaiman & Amanda Palmer, recorded at Portland’s Aladdin Theater in November of 2011 — Bradbury’s final autumn — Gaiman brings the story to life in his own endlessly enchanting voice. Please enjoy:
I am willing to pay that price, if the empty space in the bookshelf of my mind can be filled again, before I go.
Complement Shadow Show with Bradbury on storytelling, the importance of working with love, his own marvelous reading of the poem “If Only We Had Taller Been,” and Ralph Steadman’s rare illustrations for Fahrenheit 451, then revisit Gaiman on how stories last, the power of cautionary questions, what reading does for the human spirit, and his eight rules of writing.
Published August 22, 2016