When I was young I read everything by Ray Bradbury I could get my hands on. He was a fantasist, and so is every child. Later I felt the same way about Ernest Hemingway.
For what it’s worth—probably not much—both writers hailed from towns outside Chicago, Bradbury Waukegan and Hemingway Oak Park. Each in his turn taught me the same lesson—that it takes courage and imagination to see the world (in Bradbury’s case the universe) as it truly is, and to be spared that sight most of us cauterize our imaginations and let doctrine act as our eyes. Each made me feel that was about the most shameful thing an adult could do.
Bradbury, much the happier man of the two, just died at the age of 91. Hemingway was 61 in 1961 when he committed suicide. Among the legion of admirers troubled by that death was Bradbury, and he did something about it. In 1965 he wrote a short story called “The Kilimanjaro Machine.”
Bradbury explained in his introduction: