Book Review: In Print

As important a book in its own way as François Truffaut's Hitchcock, Listen to the Echoes compiles dozens of hours of interviews Bradbury's biographer has conducted over the past several decades

In Print

Listen to the Echoes: The Ray Bradbury Interviews

by Sam Weller
Stop Smiling Books, 317 pp., $18.95 (paper)

As important a book in its own way as François Truffaut's Hitchcock, Listen to the Echoes compiles dozens of hours of interviews Bradbury's biographer has conducted over the past several decades and breaks them down into manageable chapters titled "Childhood," "Hollywood," "Writing and Creativity," and, most intriguing of all to longtime Bradbury aficionados, "The Lost Paris Review Interview." Conducted in 1976, that meandering bit of journalism was nixed by George Plimpton for being "a bit informal," but if there's one thing you take away from Sam Weller's collected conversations with this legendary and enormously influential icon/writer, it's that he's as self-contradictory as the next guy – and chattily informal. Bradbury's prose, which at its best – in the novels Fahrenheit 451 and Something Wicked This Way Comes, as well as in his short story collections from the Fifties, The Martian Chronicles and The October Country – is as evocative and deeply humanistic as anything Kurt Vonnegut ever pulled off, often spilling over the edge of prose into downright lyrical poetry. There's a reason his short works are still read in high school English classes, alongside Poe and Crane and Benét: They're the crown jewels of a difficult and vanishing art form, simultaneously spare and lush, dense with nonverbal emotion, and models of economic narrative storytelling. Bradbury's famous quirks – he won't drive a car, and he didn't fly in a plane until he was well into his 60s (he turns 90 this month) – are so well known that they barely rate a mention here. What's more interesting are choice tidbits from his past that relate directly to current cultural mores: On the gay marriage issue, he recounts his (platonic, straight) friendship with Rock Hudson; on gender roles as a whole, he confides that, "Men are the inferior sex ... the male ego is the problem in the world everywhere"; and on his famous nonrelationship with computers and the Internet, which, as any honest writer will agree, are "a distraction ... I don't care what they say about e-books. A computer does not smell. There are two perfumes to a book: a book is new, it smells great; a book is old, it smells even better!" Amen to that.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Ray Bradbury
Book Review
We'll Always Have Paris: Stories
Bradbury's prose has become both leaner and keener over the years without sacrificing any of his trademark humanist whimsy

Marc Savlov, Feb. 20, 2009

More Book Reviews
<i>Presidio</i> by Randy Kennedy
Presidio by Randy Kennedy
For his debut novel, Kennedy creates a road story that portrays the harsh West Texas terrain beautifully and fills it with sympathetic characters.

Jay Trachtenberg, Sept. 14, 2018

Hunting the Golden State Killer in <i>I'll Be Gone in the Dark</i>
Hunting the Golden State Killer in I'll Be Gone in the Dark
How Michelle McNamara tracked a killer before her untimely death

Jonelle Seitz, July 20, 2018

More by Marc Savlov
Freeland
Moving stoner drama finds the downside of going legit

Oct. 15, 2021

Fantastic Fest Review: <i>Barbarians</i>
Fantastic Fest Review: Barbarians
English dinner party drama goes straight to darkest hell

Oct. 5, 2021

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Ray Bradbury, Sam Weller

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle