Reviews for Bradbury Chronicles
Book News Reviews
Weller's portrait of Ray Bradbury captures the contradictions of the writer who envisioned rocket travel to outer space but never learned to drive a car or operate a computer. The biography is based on Bradbury's private archives and Weller's interviews with Bradbury's friends, family members, colleagues and Bradbury himself. Weller is a journalist and professor at Columbia College Chicago, where he teaches a class on Bradbury's life and work. Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Booklist Reviews 2005 March #2
/*Starred Review*/ The title of Weller's biography, the first of the great and influential storyteller Ray Bradbury, is a play on one of Bradbury's most loved books, The Martian Chronicles (1950), and a perfect description of Weller's approach. According to Webster's, chronicle means a "continuous historical account of events arranged in order of time without analysis or interpretation." Although Weller discusses Bradbury's enthusiasms (comics, movies, Halloween, and ice cream) and key themes (loneliness, mortality, magic, censorship, racism, war, and technology), offers frank observations about his personality ("a poster boy for the Peter Pan syndrome"), and describes how Bradbury transformed his past into "autobiographical fantasies," his primary objective is to tell straight the entire, amazing story of how a myopic boy from Waukegan, Illinois, turned himself into the mind-expanding, genre-transcending, and internationally beloved creator of such seminal tales as The Illustrated Man (1951) and Fahrenheit 451 (1953). Bradbury granted literary journalist and lifelong fan Weller unprecedented access to his private life and private archive, and Weller has repaid the favor with a compulsively readable account of an exceptionally prescient, innovative, eccentric, and dedicated writer who has electrified the imaginations of generations of readers. More scholarly and literary biographies will follow, but none will have the vitality and intimacy of this living portrait. ((Reviewed March 15, 2005)) Copyright 2005 Booklist Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2005 March #1
Rosy and authorized biography of SF visionary Bradbury by Midwestern journalist Weller. The author does a snappy job of portraying the halcyon early days of Bradbury's success, though he rarely delves beneath the veil of hazy memory that suits a cranky elder writer intent on fashioning perceptions of his life. Though born in Waukegan, Ill., in 1920, young Ray moved at age 13 with his family to L.A., where his father could finally find work during the Depression, and where Bradbury would live the rest of his life. Weller claims his subject as a "prairie writer--the prairie is in his voice and it is his moral compass," and calls him a mama's boy. Passionate about the movies, magic and the First World Science Fiction Convention in New York City, which he reached via Greyhound bus in 1939, Bradbury set about writing a story a week. He became a regular contributor to such pulps as Weird Tales and Script, credits that would haunt him later when editors resisted considering him a serious writer. His marriage to retiring Marguerite McClure in 1947 (lasting until her recent death) dovetailed with professional success after success, from the publication of his first story collection, Dark Carnival, to securing influential Simon & Schuster editor cum agent Don Congdon, to the swift appearance of The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Dandelion Wine, and Fahrenheit 451 (written in a heat against the McCarthy hearings during the early '50s). The chapter covering his ill-fated year in Ireland writing the screenplay for John Huston's Moby-Dick hints at events Bradbury wishes were left unearthed, as do mentions (without names) of his extramarital affairs in later years. His work for both NASA and Walt Disney (designing the EPCOT Center) warrants an entire book in itself. A proficient study of a prodigious talent still going strong, but Weller surely had to tie his hands in order to stay in Bradbury's good graces. Copyright Kirkus 2005 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Library Journal Reviews 2005 April #1
Although extremely popular for half a century, American fantasy writer Ray Bradbury (b. 1920) has never been the subject of a complete biography until now. Journalist Weller struck up a warm acquaintance with Bradbury in 2000, and this highly detailed, quotation-laden book reflects his access to Bradbury himself, Bradbury's family and friends, and Bradbury's private archives. Born in unthreatening Waukegan, IL-which played a large part in his later fiction (Dandelion Wine)-Bradbury grew up in a family with little money for books and learned early to patronize the public library, where he became an omnivorous reader. Although he rose to fame quickly, publishing his first fantasy story at the age of 20, his stories at heart are human in scope; he cared little for scientific accuracy and resented the label "science fiction writer" as being unduly restrictive. Spanning a revolutionary period in communications and the arts, this lively biography written in nonacademic prose is a pleasure to read; Weller probes Bradbury's work and takes the time to address small but amusing details, like the fact that the masterful writer never had the time or nerve to acquire a driver's license. Highly recommended.-Charles C. Nash, formerly with Cottey Coll., Nevada, MO Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2005 February #4
Journalist Weller pays tribute to an American icon in this ebullient authorized biography of Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles, who was born in Waukegan, Ill., on August 22, 1920. ("I remember the day I was born," Bradbury claims in what is perhaps a sign of his genius-or of the price of access to him.) In highly readable prose, Weller surveys Bradbury's ancestors and family, his boyhood move to Hollywood, his introduction to science fiction and fantasy and his early writing attempts, which reflect the themes that pervade his more mature work: "nostalgia, loneliness, lost love, and death." If Weller places Bradbury in a pantheon occupied by Shakespeare, Melville, Dickens and Poe, he also mentions more than one extramarital affair and his hero's poor eating habits. Highlights include Bradbury's collaboration with John Huston on the film Moby Dick, his receiving the National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters in 2000 and his recent feud with Michael Moore over the title of Moore's documentary film Fahrenheit 9/11. A serious critical biography will have to wait until after the master's death, but for now this adoring portrait will satisfy most Bradbury fans. Agent, Judith Ehrlich. (Apr. 5) FYI: Weller is a former Midwest correspondent for Publishers Weekly. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2005 August
Adult/High School-Weller focuses on Bradbury's professional successes and difficulties. After writing a few stories for pulp magazines, some of which were self-published, Bradbury suddenly found his pieces anthologized in The Best American Short Stories (Houghton) and his work in demand from national magazines and publishers. A strong work ethic, along with a little luck and a lot of charm, carried him through a long, successful career. Aside from the masterworks like Something Wicked This Way Comes (Bantam, 1983) and Fahrenheit 451 (Ballantine, 1987) that he's most known for, Bradbury also wrote for television, worked as a script writer for director John Huston's version of Moby Dick, and even served as a consultant to Walt Disney for what would become the EPCOT Center. Weller's research-based on interviews with Bradbury as well as family members and colleagues-is almost exhaustive in its detail, and he does a fine job of presenting the facts of his subject's unique life. The lively, conversational prose brings out the writer's winning personality and turns his struggles and successes into a highly readable story. The presentation comes off as a little one-sided at times, but this is a quibble about a book that, overall, is informative, enjoyable, and inspiring.-Matthew L. Moffett, Northern Virginia Community College, Annandale Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2005 August
On the cover of this new biography appears the following statement by Ray Bradbury: "This is my life! It's as if somehow Sam Weller slipped into my skin and my head and my heart-it's all here." Encapsulated in this quote lies both the book's greatest strength and its greatest weakness. Weller had unprecedented access to his subject. He admits to idolizing Bradbury, and his book reflects this attitude. It is full of enthusiasm and is highly appreciative of Bradbury's many and varied accomplishments. On the other hand, it portrays a virtual saint's life. Weller's subject can do little wrong and is a prodigy without parallel. This attitude, although perfectly capturing Bradbury's own bubbling, still youthful personality, leads the biographer to underrepresent the author's dark side. He is, after all, one of the great masters of dark fantasy. It also causes Weller to make the basically silly claim that "arguably, no other twentieth-century literary figure can claim such sweeping cultural impact" as Bradbury. Nevertheless there is much to like here. The book is chock-full of fascinating anecdotes. One of the best concerns Bradbury's disappointment after Adlai Stevenson lost the 1952 presidential election. The writer was so incensed that, at the risk of damaging his own budding career as a Hollywood screenwriter, he published a Letter to the Republican Party in Variety that castigated McCarthy and Nixon for impugning the loyalty of Democrats. Such feistiness has long been a Bradbury trademark. Adult readers might wish for a more nuanced portrait of the author, but this biography will please younger fans.-Michael Levy Index. Photos. Biblio. Source Notes. 3Q 3P S A/YA Copyright 2005 Voya Reviews.