I'm late to throw out my appreciation for Ray Bradbury's work, but since he passed away this week I wanted to acknowledge how much I enjoyed his work, and how much it influenced me as a reader.
In my opinion Bradbury was one of the best American short story authors, but there is a specific kind of story that he wrote better than anyone else. He had a way to spin a tale about youthful innocence endangered which was nostalgic without being overly sentimental, scary but not grotesque. These stories captured a kind of Midwestern ethos that found magic and wonder not only in the overtly fantastic, but also in the shimmer of a sky full of stars, and the trials faced by children straddling adolescent politics and the adult world around them.
In addition to these, he wrote about things that moved me when I was a kid: dinosaurs, Mars, sneaking out of the house at night. As an adult, Bradbury managed to never lose his memory of the magic such things could have for a child. As a child reading his work, I felt like he understood my world, and that these stories were little gifts made specially for me.
Wherever he is, I hope that he knows how much I appreciate his work, and that he's smiling.