I like books.
There’s no other way around it. I enjoy reading.
I like science-fiction and fantasy (SFF). Here is what sits on my SFF bookshelf at the moment:
There’s the original five Hitchhiker books from Douglas Adams plus Eion Colfer’s addition of a sixth book. There are three tales from Issac Asimov (I, Robot, Foundation, Foundation and Empire). Also residing on this shelf are Ursula K. Le Guin (A Wizard of EarthSea), C.S. Lewis (The Magician’s Nephew…which is actually the first book about Narnia), William Gibson (Neuromancer), Ray Bradbury (The Martian Chronicles), Frank Herbert (Dune), and Piers Anthony (On A Pale Horse).
I also like politics and have a book shelf devoted to that topic.
There are books about presidential elections (Collision 2012, Smashmouth among others) and tomes about presidential administrations (Ambling Into History, Marching In Place among others). I need to order a book about the 2016 election and one on the Obama Administration.
However, out of all the books I own, I do have a prized possession.
This is its story.
I was living in Southern California at the time (and for those of you with a WABAC Machine, that time would be the summer of 1988) when it was announced that Ray Bradbury would be at a conveniently located nearby mall signing copies of his latest collection of short stories entitled The Toynbee Convector. I had never been to a book signing before but everything that I had seen on television and movies regarding authors and these publicity events told me that I would have, at most, 60 seconds with this literary legend. Seriously, what do you say to a gentleman who has penned some of the most iconic literature of our time including The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451, and The Illustrated Man?
Oh, yeah, and he also wrote the screenplay for the 1956 film version of Moby Dick (the one with Gregory Peck as Ahab).
How many times has this guy heard the phrase, “I love your work”, “Your books changed my life”, or “I’m your biggest fan”? I needed something different.
When my time came to be at the front of the line, I presented my book for Mr. Bradbury to sign and I told him that I had a bet with my friend. My friend (who was a fictional as any Bradbury character, but you probably had already guessed that) said that it was Issac Asimov who appeared in a Stan Freberg commercial for Sunsweet Prunes while I was claiming it was Mr. Bradbury who had starred in such televised fare.
Mr. Bradbury smiled at me and said, “You win.” He then signed my book with the tagline from that commercial, “Today the pits, tomorrow the wrinkles.”
It is a treasure of my collection as it is one of the three signed books I own.
We chatted for a bit and I went far over my allotted sixty seconds. Turns out, Mr. Bradbury, being the nice and lovable man that he is, took the time to exchange a few words with everyone who stopped by to buy his book.
That’s my story.
P.S. My favorite tale from The Toynbee Convector is “The Laurel and Hardy Love Affair”. As to why, well…that’s a story for another time.