Ray Bradbury died last week. I blathered on about it on Facebook and elsewhere and don't wish to revisit any of that here, other that to say he was a great writer, and probably held more sway over my early writing imagination than any other one writer. Until I discovered Vonnegut, anyway (and thanks for that, Mrs. Helms, an Ankeny, Iowa English teacher extraordinaire).
After he died I started reading him to the kids. First The Lake, then The Wind, then the Dwarf, all from The October Country (we took a break during the debacle that was the Mets-Yankees series). When I tell them "scary story" they think of giant flame-throwing robots riding dinosaurs and such. Bradbury's bag of tricks is, of course, more subtle, so it's taken them a little while to understand his effects. The Dwarf has been the most successful read of the four, and it has no supernatural elements at all. But the image of the antagonist at the end is so deftly drawn, so chilling, they got it.
Youngest fidgets constantly but hangs onto every word as I read, and asks questions after, and shoots up her hand when I ask things like "so what the heck happened at the end, anyway?" Eldest lies on the floor, seemingly barely awake, and while she'll answer any question I ask, she tells me what she likes about me reading to them at night is just the sound of my voice, while she nestles into the couch, the carpet, her Mom's lap.
She says it makes her feel safe.
I can live with that.
*a clumsy reference to one of my favorites: Boys! Grow Giant Mushrooms in Your Cellar!