Walnut Creek Reads Explores Fahrenheit 451

Walnut Creek Reads is currently exploring Ray Bradbury’s classic Fahrenheit 451for the One City One Book community event.  It is also the 60 year anniversary of this book.  I was first introduced to Ray Bradbury in 6th grade when my teacher read “I Sing the Body Electric”, to the class over the course of the year, which is a 1969 collection of short stories by Ray Bradbury (the book takes its name from a short story of the same title, which took the title from a poem by Walt Whitman published in his collection Leaves of Grass).  From then on I was hooked on Bradbury and Science Fiction, I bought a bunch of his books, my favorite being “The Illustrated Man”.  I don’t remember reading Fahrenheit 451, however in college I took a SciFi film class and it was one of the movies we had to review.  In honor of the 60 year anniversary I purchased the book and just started reading it. From the introduction, Neil Gaiman notes this book is speculative fiction.  “If this goes on…” story.  Bradbury was writing about his present.  In 1953 the radio was waning and the exciting new medium of television had come into vogue, whole families were gathering around the television in the evenings, the Cold War was going on and the senate was holding hearings to root out hidden Communists and taking steps to stamp out comic books because news channels were warning of juvenile deliquents.  Bradbury thought if this goes on, nobody will read books anymore.   I am struck by how relevant and current his writing style is for being 60 years old.  The “what if” our society took the course of outlawing books and became a society addicted to a comatose state of watching TV where we no longer really interacted with each other – sounds familiar today with all the video games our children play?

Another older book written in 1939 that has seen a  spike in sales is George Orwell’s 1984 – there are some stark similarities after the recent revelations George Zimmerman exposed concerning the NSA’s government surveillance of personal and private interactions of mostly innocent civilians.  1984 described a fictitious world gripped in the vise of war and a society held captive by the ever-watchful gaze of a totalitarian dictator known as “Big Brother.”  Maybe it isn’t really science fiction….
 
     If you are interested in exploring more about Fahrenheit 451, the WCLibrary is having a few group discussion and events:
   “Reading-Why Bother”: 7pm, Wednesday, September 18th, author Kevin Smokler will tie in censorship and book burning at the Walnut Creek Library   “The Metaphor of Book Burning”: 7pm Wednesday, October 2nd St. Mary’s Professor Robert Gorsch will host a lecture & discussion at the Walnut Creek Library.

“Create a Graphic Novel”: 6:30pm-8:30pm, Thursday, October 10thhosted by novelist Oliver Chin at the Walnut Creek Library. Must be 18 or older.

 All events are free, seating is limited. Pre-register at www.WCLibrary.org

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.