Celebrating Literature in Public

[Another post from now associate editor Greg Hunter.]

Next week is Ray Bradbury Week in Los Angeles, in which the author’s ninetieth birthday (August 20) kicks off a series of Bradbury-related film screenings. None of which I’ll attend, being located in Minneapolis, but thanks to the Internet, I feel as though I’ve already experienced the event vicariously.

Beginning last Monday, the online arm of the Los Angeles Times ran a series of articles about Bradbury, ostensibly about the film series but mostly of note because Bradbury says things like, We’ve got too many Internets.” (The impact of such quotes is not lost on journalist Susan King, who when not praising Bradbury paints him as a loon.) Throughout the articles, Bradbury sounds like a deeply unhappy person and wholly unlike the man who wrote Dandelion Wine, a book that’s rare in its kindheartedness. That Bradbury’s image might need a little buffering as a result of the press surrounding a tribute to his work is a sad sort of irony, but readers’ fondness for Bradbury’s stories will no doubt outlast the echoes of his unfortunate sound bites.

To some, it may also seem ironic that Bradbury Week celebrates the writer’s career mostly by screening adaptations of his work. Then again, Bradbury’s sizeable impact on the public imagination, the many avenues by which his characters and ideas reached people, is a legit part of his legacy (there’s a whole lot to screen). And such a communal (and highly publicized) celebration of a writer seldom takes place at all in the United States, where we have nothing approaching a Bloomsday. Which brings me to my question(s): With reading being such a solitary act, there’s no real literary equivalent of a film/gallery retrospective so what are your favorite ways to celebrate books in public? Have any readers of the Lerner Books Blog ever entered a Hemingway look-alike contest?