When I was in high school, I was an honors student enrolled in the Honors English classes all four years. Now I was never the greatest student, but I enjoyed being with the brighter kids and having more challenging literature to study. Unknown to me and my teachers I was quite dyslexic, which was the reason why I was such a slow reader and terrible speller. I had to work harder than my classroom compatriots, who all seemed to burn through the required reading and writing assignments. I had to learn how to listen carefully to class discussions and carefully question my friends as to how the books ended so that I could successfully pull off any essay test questions since I was rarely ever able to complete any reading assignment. It was amazing that I graduated from college with a degree in English literature with good grades.
I am still a dreadfully slow reader, but I now know why. I’m not stupid – I just had a physical impairment that I have to work around. So to compound with this difficulty with dyslexia, I also had a teacher who did not like my writing style or the kind of literature that I enjoyed. I am one of those souls who love Science Fiction and Fantasy literature, and she was not one of those people who could see the value in these genres. I remember clearly towards the end of my senior year in high school when we were all preparing for college and she came up to me and said that she wished that she could have done more for me and that I wrote like Ray Bradbury, which she meant as an insult.
I had not read much Ray Bradbury and knew that he wrote the Martian Chronicles, which I was not very interested in reading, and when one is dyslexic, one is very choosy about what they spend their time reading, so I never really ever read anything by Ray Bradbury. So I carried around in my mind this slight and lack of confidence instilled in me by this English instructor and this comment about being like Ray Bradbury, so I finally decided, after almost 30 years, that I wanted to know what kind of writer Ray Bradbury was, and this was how I found myself purchasing Fahrenheit 451. I knew it was supposed to be a classic piece of literature, so it seemed like the best choice to spend my time upon.
After reading it…..
Damn, I wish I did write like Ray Bradbury!! The book was excellent. It was well written, the characters carefully crafted, and it was not predictable like so much that I come across. I usually can tell how a story will go especially TV and movies, and it’s a pleasure when I can watch something and be surprised.
The other aspect about Fahrenheit 451 is how timely it is, and frightfully so. The United States currently maintains a society where everyone has to be happy and anything to make the masses happy is done no matter to what detriment of the future it may cost. We have been and are going in that direction. If someone’s child is slow, then the school curriculum is “dumbed-down” so that a child and their parents don’t feel bad. We want to call garbage men sanitation engineers to make them feel important or perhaps more educated even though what they do is a vital service to the general public. No one wants to take responsibility for things that go wrong, it’s always someone or something else’s fault. People are counseled not to get angry or have any intense feelings and if they do, they are given medications. And TV and other forms of entertainment replace one’s real friends and family. This is what Ray Bradbury wrote about in this book written in 1951! He really saw all this coming over 70 years ago and we are all so blind to what is occurring. The people walking around with ipod and mp3 music players going and ignoring everyone else is happening as well as the huge realistic HD TV screens along with the Roman like athletic games that are the focus of so much interest, and I have to wonder if we shall sink to the depths of censoring all the information available in the libraries and Internet to the point that it will become a violent action of the government against its citizens? So much of what he wrote about has already happened.
Please read Fahrenheit 451. It’s an amazing piece of literature, and it among many other texts someday may be banned or censored because they make people think and feel concerned about the current condition of Humanity.
G. Winkler © 2012