The Ray Bradbury MFA, Day One

In this 2001 talk Ray Bradbury offers a way to fill up one’s head “a thousand nights” of reading: one poem, one essay, on story before bedtime. Since he often talked of spending one’s late teen years in the library as the equivalent of getting to university, maybe this the further regimen qualifies of as post-graduate work. I’m going to give it a shot at least for awhile (although not at bedtime), maybe a week, and if I think of anything to say about any particular day’s lessons, I’ll post it here. I’m pulling these from books I have lying around, as well as from a big folder of free public domain ebooks on my devices courtesy of Project Gutenberg, all without any organized plan.

POEM:

The Shoelace by Charles Bukowski.

From Mockingbird Wish Me Luck (1972),  reprinted in The Pleasures of the Damned (2007), which is where I’m reading it. I certainly read the original collection, but have no particular recollection of this poem. I’m already taking liberties with the course, as Bradbury clearly states we should stay away from modern poetry, which in his view is mostly shit. However, this one is melodic and lovely, as a good deal of Bukowski’s poetry is. I don’t know if Bukowski is as widely read now as he was when I was a young hipster but he might very well be–notwithstanding to 5.5 out of 10 rating this poem received on this site I’ve linked to for it. “The Shoelace”, with it litany of minor woes, really speaks to the 21st century–century of minor emergencies and unsteady income. Prices need to be adjusted for inflation, naturally, and probably “crabs” should be replaced by “bedbugs”. Otherwise, spot on.

STORY:

“Mainwaring’s Gift” by Ed Gorman, in his collection  Dead Man’s Gun and Other Western Stories. This short book contains two very good stories, “Pards” and “The Face”.  I like westerns. And I like Gorman. His blog is full of great anecdotes and little vignettes from the history of publishing.

ESSAY:

“That the Intention is Judge of Our Actions” The Essays of Montaigne vol. 2 The next essay in this volume is called “Idleness”. I have a feeling, based on this reading, that M comes down against it. I may have to pick up a copy of  Tom Hodgkinson’s book.

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