What to do tonight: Ray Bradbury fans to honor author


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There are six of them. They are readers and they are writers. The reading came first, and the writing came later, but the reading has never stopped.

Tonight they will be reading aloud selected short stories by legendary author Ray Bradbury, who died last month in Los Angeles at the age of 91.

It's a memorial, of sorts. A gathering at which they will not grieve, but rather they will celebrate one of the great writers of fantasy and science fiction.

They are meeting in a bookstore called Awesome Books on Liberty Avenue, Downtown, each of the six sharing a selection that speaks specially to him or her.

Perhaps they will speak to you. You are welcome to come and find out.

"I'm going to read Ray's first story, 'The Lake,' " said the event's organizer, Nathan Kukulski, 30, of Polish Hill. "It's not his first published story, but it's the first story that he cops to."

The other readers are Eric Davin, Al Faler, Sara Holy, Scott Silsbe and Don Wentworth, all of whom were invited by Mr. Kukulski.

"Shortly after Ray's death last month, a couple people suggested that it would be a good thing to have a low-key memorial-reading of some of his stories," Mr. Kukulski said. "A friend and I read stories to each other, and it seemed to be a good thing to have an official event. So I reached out to them. I knew them all, and they all knew immediately which stories they would read. I figured they would because they all had strong connections to Bradbury and his stories."

Mr. Kukulski works as a parking lot attendant but -- like the others in the group -- dabbles in science fiction, as a reader and a writer. His work has been published by the Cyberpunk Apocalypse, "Pittsburgh's sketchiest comic and writers cooperative," according to its website.

He said he finds writing to be "exhilarating," an experience he attributes to Bradbury's influence.

"There's a sense of joy that is apparent in all of his stories," Mr. Kukulski said. "Even and especially those dealing with irrevocable loss or the destruction of civilization or any number of extremely dark scenarios.

"The feeling that comes through is a general joy of life and experience, particularly for the written word and the power of storytelling."

Mr. Kukulski can trace his fondness -- his connection -- to Bradbury to a precise time of his life. He was 10 years old.

"I remember it very clearly," he said. "It was the summer in which my father died. It was a very memorable and strange summer. And I read 'The Martian Chronicles,' 'Fahrenheit 451' and 'Dandelion Wine,' mostly in a tree in my grandparents' back yard."

Not a treehouse, mind you. Sitting in a tree, comfortably tucked into the bending of the branches.

"The stories had a powerful effect," he said. "Subsequent things I read never had the same impact. Of course, the circumstances of my personal life were different.

"I think that's probably the case for most folks who are big fans of Bradbury. They first encountered his works in their childhood and it made a very strong impression. That seems to be true of most of the folks I talk to who are very into his stuff."

But why the reading tonight? Surely, there's no fear that Bradbury and his works need to be kept alive.

"No, I'm sure they will live on regardless of this event," Mr. Kukulski said. "But events such as this are a great thing. It definitely would be cool if more people would read these stories aloud to one another. Performing stories for someone else is very powerful and could stand to be done more often."

A lesson we all learned from our mothers at bedtime.

"Ray has been a great influence and a great inspiration," Mr. Kukulsi said. "The stories continue to resonate with people and have a very strong effect on readers of all tastes and backgrounds. Given that and his recent demise, I thought it would be a timely thing, and hopefully a fun thing for the participants."

The name of the event is "Live Forever! An Evening with Ray Bradbury." The readings get under way around 6:30 p.m. and each one should take between 10 and 20 minutes to be performed.

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This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To log in or subscribe, go to: http://press.post-gazette.com/


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