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Green Shadows, White Whale: A Novel of Ray Bradbury's Adventures Making Moby Dick with John Huston in Irelandby Ray Bradbury
Synopses & Reviews
The land was green.
Not just one ordinary sort of green, but every shade and variation. Even the shadows were green, and the light that played on the Dú n Laoghaire wharf and on the faces of the customs inspectors. Down into the green I stepped, an American young man, just beyond thirty, suffering two sorts of depression, lugging a typewriter and little else.
Noticing the light, the grass, the hills, the shadows, I cried out: "Green! Just like the travel posters. Ireland "is green. I'll be damned! Green!"
Lightning! Thunder! The sun hid. The green vanished. Shadowrains curtained the vast sky. Bewildered, I felt my smile collapse. A gray and bristly customs official beckoned.
"Here! Customs inspection!"
"Where did it go?" I cried. "The green! It was just here! Now it's --"
"The green, you say?"
The inspector stared at his watch. "It'll be along when the sun comes out!" he said.
"When will that be?"
The old man riffled a customs index. "Well, there's nothing in the damn government pamphlets to show when, where, or "if the sun comes out in Ireland!" He pointed with his nose. "There's a church down there — you might ask!"
"I'll be here six months. Maybe --"
" — you'll see the sun and the green again? Chances are. But in '28, two hundred days of rain. It was the year we raised more mushrooms than children."
"Is that a fact?"
"No, hearsay. But that's all you need in Ireland, someone to hear, someone to say, and you're in business! Is that "all your luggage?"
"Is this your first trip here?"
"No. I was here, poor and unpublished, off a freighter in 1939, just eighteen."
"Your reason for being in Ireland?" The inspector licked his pencil and indelibled his pad.
"Reason has nothing to do with it," I blurted.
His pencil stayed, while his gaze lifted.
"That's a grand start, but what does it mean?"
He leaned forward, pleased, as if a riot had surfed at his feet.
"What kind would that be?" he asked politely.
"Two kinds. Literary and psychological. I am here to flense and render down the White Whale."
"Flense." He scribbled. "Render down. White Whale. That would be "Moby Dick, then?"
"You read!" I cried, taking that same book from under my arm.
"When the mood is on me." He underlined his scribbles. "We've had the Beast in the house some twenty years. I fought it twice. It is overweight in pages and the author's intent."
"It is," I agreed. "I picked it up and laid it down ten times until last month, when a movie studio signed me to it. Now I must win out for keeps."
The customs inspector nodded, took my measurements, and declared: "So you're here to write a "screenplay! There's only "one other cinema fellow in all Ireland. Whatsisname. Tall, with a kind of beat-up monkey face, talked fine. Said 'Never again.' Took the ferry to find what the Irish Sea was like. Found out and delivered forth both lunch and breakfast. Pale he was. Barely able to lug the Whale book under one arm. 'Never again, ' he yelled. And you, lad. Will you ever lick the book?"
"The Whale has not docked here, no. So much for literature. What's the"psychological thing you said? Are you here to observe the Catholics lying about everything and the Unitarians baring their breasts?"
"No, no," I said hastily, remembering my one visit here, when the weather was dreadful. "Now between lowerings for the Whale, I will study the "Irish."
"God has gone blind at that. Can you outlast Him? Why try?" He poised his pencil.
"Well ..." I said, putting the black sack over my head, fastening the noose about my neck, and yanking the lever to drop the trapdoor, "excuse me, but this is the last place in the world I'd dream of landing. It's all such a mystery. When I was a kid and passed the Irish neighborhood on one side of town, the Micks beat the hell out of me. And when they ran through our neighborhood, we beat "them. It has bothered me half a lifetime why we did what we did. I grew up nonplussed --"
"Nonplussed? Is "that all?" cried the Official.
" — with the Irish. I do not dislike them so much as I am uncomfortable with my past. I do not much care for Irish whiskey or Irish tenors. Irish coffee, too, is not my cup of tea. The list is long. Having lived with these terrible prejudices, I must fight free of them. And since the studio assigned me to chase the Whale in Ireland, my God, I thought, I'll compare reality with my hand-me-down suspicions. I must lay the ghost forever. You might say," I ended lamely, "I've come to "see the Irish."
"No! "Hear us, yes. But our tongue's not connected to our brain. "See us? Why, lad, we're not "here. We're over there or just beyond. Lend me those glasses."
He reached gently to take the spectacles from my nose.
"Ah, God." He slipped them on. "These are twenty-twenty!"
"No, no! The focus is too exact. You want something that bends the light and makes a kind of mist or fog, not quite rain.
It's then you'll see us floating, almost drowned, on our backs, like that "Hamlet girl ... ?"
""That's her, poor lass. Well!" He perched the glasses on my nose...
When a prestigious writer, an egocentric film director and an infamous great white whale all converge on the Emerald Isle, the result is more priceless than a pot of gold. And no mere leprechaun could conjure up such irresistible situations and memorable characters; the magic comes from the pen of the master himselfRay Bradbury.
In 1953, the brilliant but terrifying titan of cinema John Huston summons the young writer Ray Bradbury to Ireland. The apprehensive scribe's quest is to capture on paper the fiercest of all literary beasts — Moby Dick — in the form of a workable screenplay so the great director can begin filming.
But from the moment he sets foot on Irish soil, the author embarks on an unexpected odyssey. Meet congenial IRA terrorists, tippling men of the cloth impish playwrights, and the boyos at Heeber Finn's pub. In a land where myth is reality, poetry is plentiful, and life's misfortunes are always cause for celebration, Green Shadows, White Whale is the grandest tour of Ireland you'll ever experience — with the irrepressible Ray Bradbury as your enthusiastic guide.
About the Author
Ray Bradbury, American novelist, short story writer, essayist, playwright, screenwriter and poet, was born August 22, 1920 in Waukegan, Illinois. He graduated from a Los Angeles high school in 1938.Although his formal education ended there, he became a "student of life," selling newspapers on L.A. street corners from 1938 to 1942, spending his nights in the public library and his days at the typewriter.He became a full-time writer in 1943, and contributed numerous short stories to periodicals before publishing a collection of them, Dark Carnival, in 1947.
His reputation as a writer of courage and vision was established with the publication of The Martian Chronicles in 1950, which describes the first attempts of Earth people to conquer and colonize Mars, and the unintended consequences.Next came The Illustrated Man and then, in 1953, Fahrenheit 451, which many consider to be Bradbury?s masterpiece, a scathing indictment of censorship set in a future world where the written word is forbidden.In an attempt to salvage their history and culture, a group of rebels memorize entire works of literature and philosophy as their books are burned by the totalitarian state.Other works include The October Country, Dandelion Wine, A Medicine for Melancholy, Something Wicked This Way Comes, I Sing the Body Electric!, Quicker Than the Eye, and Driving Blind.In all, Bradbury has published more than thirty books, close to 600 short stories, and numerous poems, essays, and plays.His short stories have appeared in more than 1,000 school curriculum "recommended reading" anthologies.Mr. Bradbury?s eagerly awaited new novel, From the Dust Returned, will be published by William Morrow at Halloween 2001.Morrow will release One More For the Road, a new collection Bradbury stories, at Christmas 2001.
Ray Bradbury?s work has been included in four Best American Short Story collections. He has been awarded the O. Henry Memorial Award, the Benjamin Franklin Award, the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Grand Master Award from the Science Fiction Writers of America, the PEN Center USA West Lifetime Achievement Award, among others.In November 2000, the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters was conferred upon Mr. Bradbury at the 2000 National Book Awards Ceremony in New York City.
Ray Bradbury has never confined his vision to the purely literary. He has been nominated for an Academy Award (for his animated film Icarus Montgolfier Wright), and has won an Emmy Award (for his teleplay of The Halloween Tree).He adapted sixty-five of his stories for television?s Ray Bradbury Theater. He was the creative consultant on the United States Pavilion at the 1964 New York World?s Fair. In 1982 he created the interior metaphors for the Spaceship Earth display at Epcot Center, Disney World, and later contributed to the conception of the Orbitron space ride at Euro-Disney, France.
Married since 1947, Mr. Bradbury and his wife Maggie live in Los Angeles with their four beloved cats.They have four daughters and eight grandchildren.
On the occasion of his 80th birthday in August 2000, Bradbury said, "The great fun in my life has been getting up every morning and rushing to the typewriter because some new idea has hit me.The feeling I have every day is very much the same as it was when I was twelve.In any event, here I am, eighty years old, feeling no different, full of a great sense of joy, and glad for the long life that has been allowed me.I have good plans for the next ten or twenty years, and I hope you?ll come along."
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