Ray Remembered

Although I am a science fiction/fantasy writer, my next book will not be fiction. It will be, not a biography of Ray Bradbury, buta remembrance. Ray was a close friend, first of my father’s and then, many, many years later, of mine.

I grew up with Ray, never realizing he was famous. I only knew him as one of the author’s, in my father’s writer’s group, always a large genial presence. Generous, loving and smiling.  

As I grew I slowly became aware of his fame… but it was a very gradual realization..

When I started to write in 2006, Ray was the soul of generously and from 2006-2012 he became my mentor,” my Rabbi, my Priest and my second father.” I miss him terribly.

The world knows Ray as a fabulous writer, but those of us many in number, but few in actual terms of world population knew him as a lover. He was bursting with it, love of words, love of sunshine, ideas, people and pets…especially cats, ( at one time he had twenty-five.)  Love oozed from every pore. He never lost his wonder and childlike excitement about everything. Ray was “Pay it Forward,” incarnate. I think he imbued all who knew him with belief in themselves. He was certain of their ability to persevere and succeed. He always tried to help others up the ladder. For Ray, “the top,” was a place of infinite acreage. As more rose to the peak, the peak would expand.

We few, we happy few, we band of Bradburyians who knew Ray, mourn the writer, but, miss the man of great heart, expansive spirit and boundless, endless enthusiasms. He was fresh as a new mowed lawn. He inspired us all, not only to write better, but to be better.

When I began writing this book, a memory of Ray and my father, Dolph Sharp, I discovered I was not unique in having Ray as a mentor, friend and second father.

 The man had more “honorary” children than a Mormon catholic hybrid.

There was a joke that when Ray was dead, the book that wasn’t signed by him would be rare.

Those are the one liners.

Ray – the man  – not the icon, was a generous, loving man  and I am lucky to have known him.

 Ray was wonderful. I really miss him… He had a heart as big as mars and warmer.

A heart was as big as his talent.  Some of the stories he told me, which I tell again here, may be familiar. They have been told many times, to many people. Others are unique….

I am fortune in having not only my own large fount of Bradburynialia, but my father’s as well. I hope that Ray’s, letters, words and whimsy, will bring alive, at least for a little while, that generous, wonderful man and that magic time of long ago.

*********************************************************************

Below is an introduction to a book Ray wrote about my father, which included my father’s stories, Ray’s stories and my doodles……

 “This book is dedicated not only to Dolph Sharp, but to his family, to Ros and all the girls, who rallied around her founder and hero, and helped him, time and again through not only trying but dreadful times.  It is a miraculous family. Their record stands above all others I have known in a lifetime.  If God is keeping score, oh, and I hope he is, he MUST, the names of Ros and their girls will move ten thousand miles ahead of Abou Ben Adam’s. I love not only the memory of Dolph Sharp, but I love them. If there is any kind of immortal return, as some religions say, in the next life around, they will come back in a great house, and I will be their servant. Gladly… I wish I believed in a heaven.  With all my heart I wish I did. For, with my foolish and romantic nature, I could imagine our group there, reading from eight until midnight, and Dolph on last, and all of us aroar.  But that, I guess, is not to be.” 

 “Just about forty years ago, Dolph Sharp ( I never knew him by any other name) looked through the biographies at the back of Martha Foley’s BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES and discovered a fairly remarkable thing:

Within a few miles of one another, seven or eight
short stories writers existed or, as Faulkner put it, prevailed
in the L.A. Area.  Inspired by what appeared to be a small mob
of creativity, Dolph Sharp sat down and wrote letters or heopped
on the telephone.  In a few days he had gathered together such
diverse talents as Sanora Babb, Joseph Petracca, Elliott Grennard,
Wilma Shore, Esther McCoy,  Joel Murcott, and myself.  Most of
them showed up at the first meeting.  Esther McCoy came only a bit
later, joined in the late 50’s by Peg Nixon, Dan Greenberg,
Richard Bach and Sid Stebel, not to mention.

From the first meeting on, the group worked splendidly. We were all in such diverse fields that none of us trod on the creative ground or the toes of the others.

Sanora Babb was writing fine stories about her childhood on the Kansas sod-hut plains.  Joe Petracca was remembering her Italian family background in the East.  Elliott Grennard, a jazz piano player, wrote about just that.  Wilma Shore wrote sophisticated quality New Yorker stories about intelligent women and their problems.  Joel Murcott was a radir and filn writer.  Esther McCoy began with stories and rose to become one of the finest architectural writers in the country. Nixon’s immense familv provided her with endless material.

 One night I brought a tall gangling aviator to the meeting, who aspired to be another St.Exupery. He turned out to be Richard Bach, with his Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

Bonnie Wolfe published her LOVE IN ATLANTIC, an old fashioned love story made bright, new and fresh as this afternoon’s paint.

Sid Stebel’s post world war II novel  turned out to be one of the best of its kind in 19(?)  or any year after that.

I, of course, was busy landing my people on Mars or delivering them in and out of a Second House of Usher somewhere just west of Transylvania.

So, you see, we were all on separate tracks heading toward some kind of wild and, we hoped, beautiful future.

Our group, which never had a name, met twice a month, sometimes three times a month if we were going pellmell. We met on Fridays, alternating between our various homes. We would read from eight until midnight and then break out the beer and pastrami and talk until two or three…

But now, the piece de resistance.   Our founder and leader:

Dolph Sharp.

God, how we loved him. God, how we still love him.

He was the brightest spot of every evening.

If memory serves, the first story Dolph read to us was one of his wonderful Jancie Briarman yarns; the Jewish girl of all young Jewish girls in the midst of a superbly fine Jewish family.

The writing was great, but the reading was hilarious.  It was not only what Dolph wrote that had us half way to the floor, but the way he delivered it, sitting very straight in his chair, looking down, almost askance at his scribbled and rescribbled manuscript, speaking in his dry, quiet voice in such a wa$y as would make world comedians slit their wrists.  It was the wry understatement of his voice, combined with the sometimes abrupt overstatement of a paragraph or line, that caught us all by the ears and jerked us forward.  We were all certain, caught up in Dolphs delivery, his spell, that this story, and then the next and the next, would conquer the world of humor.  His discovery of ideas and writing about the odd quirks in those ideas, reminded me of that old couple in HULOT’S HOLIDAY, the wife moving along the beach picking up strange shells or seaweed, handing them back to her husband who, without flinching, unbeknownst to her, tossed them back over his shoulder.  So, it seemed to me, Dolph moved through the world, one part of him handing on fancies, the other half tossing them not away, but onto paper, so none of us would lose.  Meanwhile, his restless curiosity moved him on down the beach, and we followed.

ImageDolph Sharp did not write INVICTUS.  But, by God, he could hum-along, and live it, and his family with him.

I have long since forgotten the words and the tune. I have lived a life of health and can only vaguely imagine my own cowardice in the face of privation and the oppression of beds and rehabilitation equipments.  Thinking on it, I flinch with guilt.

At this moment, Dolph’s dear spirit is leaning over my shoulder with a dry comment:  THIS NEEDS A BIT OF CUTTING.

So, let me cut to the end.

…  Remember Dolph1s voice when he sat so firmly upright, his glasses on his brow, looking flat down at his written and rewritten words, and those wonderfully funny words coming out of his mouth with the kind of dry, unencumbered delivery that made them twice as memorable and funny.

…In his last hours, one of Dolph’s daughters leaned over his bed and whispered: “Daddy, it’s all right for you to go.”

Dolph’s response?

“I don’t want to go!”

Well, Dolph, we didn’t want you to go, either.

So that’s why we’ve put you here, between covers.

So we can honor your life and read your story and hear your voice over and over again, sounding on some night far back in time when we were all together and it was excellent-fine.

Let us settle ourselves.

Ready, Dolph?

Begin.

is not a biography of Ray Bradbury, this is a remembrance. Ray was a close friend, first of my father’s and then, many, many years later, of mine.

I grew up with Ray, never realizing he was famous. I only knew him as one of the author’s, in my father’s writer’s group, always a large genial presence. Generous, loving and smiling.  

As I grew I slowly became aware of his fame… but it was a very gradual realization..

When I started to write in 2006, Ray was the soul of generously and from 2006-2012 he became my mentor, my Rabbi, my Priest and my second father. I miss him terribly.

The world knows Ray as a fabulous writer, but those of us many in number, but few in actual terms of world population knew him as a lover. He was bursting with it, love of words, love of sunshine, ideas, people and pets…especially cats, ( at one time he had twenty-five.)  Love oozed from every pore. He never lost his wonder and childlike excitement about everything. Ray was “Pay it Forward,” incarnate. I think he imbued all who knew him with belief in themselves. He was certain of their ability to persevere and succeed. He always tried to help others up the ladder. For Ray, “the top,” was a place of infinite acreage. As more rose to the peak, the peak would expand.

We few, we happy few, we band of Bradburyians who knew Ray, mourn the writer, but, miss the man of great heart, expansive spirit and boundless, endless enthusiasms. He was fresh as a new mowed lawn. He inspired us all, not only to write better, but to be better.

When I began writing this book, a memory of Ray and my father, Dolph Sharp, I discovered I was not unique in having Ray as a mentor, friend and second father.

 The man had more “honorary” children than a Mormon catholic hybrid.

There was a joke that when Ray was dead, the book that wasn’t signed by him would be rare.

Those are the one liners.

Ray – the man  – not the icon, was a generous, loving man  and I am lucky to have known him.

 

Ray was wonderful. I really miss him… a heart as big as mars and warmer.

Ray’s heart was as big as his talent.  Some of the stories he told me, which I tell again here, may be familiar. They have been told many times, to many people. Others are unique….

I am fortune in having not only my own large fount of Bradburynialia, but my father’s as well. I hope that Ray’s, letters, words and whimsy, will bring alive, at least for a little while, that generous, wonderful man and that magic time of long ago.

*********************************************************************

 

 

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About E.E. King

E.E. King’s has published many short stories. Ray Bradbury calls E.E. King a writer “marvelously inventive, wildly funny and deeply thought provoking. I can not recommend her highly enough.” HER NEW COLLECTION new Collection of Short Fiction “Another Happy Ending,” comes out in October 2013. There is a book launch and party @ Ray Bradbury’s favorite Bookstore Mystery and Imagination Bookstore October 20th @ 2:00 -3:00pm Her first novel, Dirk Quigby’s Guide to the Afterlife, came out 2010, released in Spanish in 2/2012. She is performing bits of "Dirk Quigby’s Guide to the Afterlife, all you need to know to choose the right heaven.” (in costume) October 30th @ 7:30-8:30 @Echo Park in “Stories Book and Café.” 1716 West Sunset Blvd • Los Angeles • CA [213] 413-3733 The New Short Fiction Series, Los Angeles’ longest running spoken word series, launched her anthology, Real Conversations With Imaginary Friends, 1/2012. Sponsor, Barnes & Noble. All her books as well as her children’s book The Adventures of Emily Finfeather or The Feathernail and Other Gifts are currently available on audible. E.E. King is the recipient of various international writing, biology and painting grants. Her murals can be seen in Downtown Los Angeles and Spain. Elizabeth Eve King has a background in teaching, painting, theater, comedy and biology. She will be an artist in residence at the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art June -Sept 2015 Ms. King is the recipient of two International Tides painting fellowships, and two international biology Earthwatch grants. She was an advisor for the J. Paul Getty’s and the Science Center’s, Arts &; Science program. She was the Science and Arts coordinator in Bosnia with Global Children’s Organization (a summer camp for war orphans and refugees) in 2000. She was the founding Arts & Sciences Director for Esperanza Community Housing Corporation . She’s worked with children in Bosnia, crocodiles in Mexico, frogs in Puerto Rico, egrets in Bali, mushrooms in Montana, archaeologists in Spain and planted butterfly gardens in South Central Los Angeles. The butterflies wish she had chosen a different location. Her short stories have been published widely
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