Reading Ray Bradbury’s work marked the first time I ever took reading seriously. The first time I borrowed his short story collection The Golden Apples of the Sun from the library was the first time I tried to appreciate fiction for grown-ups, the first time I wandered into the quiet neighborhood of the adult fiction stacks.

To be honest, I’ve always had a difficult relationship with fiction. I’m insufferably impatient. In the fifth grade, I enjoyed reading Bradbury’s short fiction because it was ofttimes really short. (I still can’t help but peek ahead to see the glorious white space marking the end of anything.) I liked that Bradbury wrote about space travel and elementary schools on Venus and what household appliances would do after the bomb dropped, but most of all I liked how he wrote about summer.

One of the most vivid of the moments still lodged in my ever-receding past is the moment you joined us here on earth. I replay it in my mind’s eye like a snippet of movie reel through the old Bell & Howell projector. A little bit grainy and blurry at spots, there’s some frayed sprocket holes that are a bit jittery, but it is intact, it is cinema verite, even these many years later.