Weller, Sam 1967-
Weller, Sam 1967-
PERSONAL: Born 1967; married; children: one daughter. Education: Columbia College Chicago, B.A., M.F.A.
ADDRESSES: Home—Chicago, IL. Agent—c/o Author Mail, HarperCollins, 10 E. 53rd Street, 7th Fl., New York, NY 10022.
CAREER: Journalist. Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, IL, part-time faculty member. Formerly wrote for Newcity, Chicago; Midwest correspondent for Publishers Weekly. Contributor to National Public Radio program All Things Considered, and Chicago Public Radio program 848.
Secret Chicago: The Unique Guidebook to Chicago's Hidden Sites, Sounds, and Tastes, ECW Press (Toronto, Canada), 2000.
Contributor to Chicago Tribune magazine.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A novel about a Chinese magician and a graphic novel.
SIDELIGHTS: Journalist Sam Weller has taught the only college-level class in the United States on the life and work of notd science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury. Weller is also the author of Bradbury's authorized biography, The Bradbury Chronicles: The Life of Ray Bradbury. The book grew out of an assignment Weller had for a cover story on the well-known writer in the Chicago Tribune magazine. Beth Dugan, writing on Bookslut.com, noted that "Bradbury was hesitant to 'bookend' his life with a biography, since, at eighty-four, he is nowhere near done living. However Weller's enthusiasm for the project finally convinced Bradbury and he granted Weller unparalleled access to his life, work, archives and time." In an interview with Scott Carlson for the Columbia Chronicle Online, Weller explained his interest in Bradbury: "He is unquestionably my literary hero. My dad read The Illustrated Man aloud to my mom while she was pregnant with me, and when I was around eleven, I found a copy of [it]—possibly the same copy—on a bookshelf in my dad's bedroom." As for the biography, Weller told Carlson, "I'm proud that I walked a line … for telling a very honest, compelling, true story, and I walked out of it with the man's blessing."
In writing Bradbury's biography, Weller was granted access not only to Bradbury but also to the writer's relatives and friends. Weller chronicles Bradbury's life beginning with his birth in Waukegan, Illinois, the family's move to Los Angeles when Bradbury was thirteen, his voracious reading habits beginning when he was young, and his growing interest in pop culture. Weller also recounts Bradbury's attendance at the First World Science Fiction Convention in New York City in 1939, and his subsequent goal of writing a story a week, which eventually led to his publication a year later at the age of twenty. From that point on, Bradbury began to make regular contributions to various "pulp" magazines. In the book, Weller also discusses the author's major works, such as The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451, The Illustrated Man, and Dandelion Wine and explores many of Bradbury's recurring themes, including the loneliness of humans, racism, censorship, and war.
Writing in Library Journal, Charles C. Nash called The Bradbury Chronicles a "lively biography written in nonacademic prose" and also noted that the book "is a pleasure to read." Booklist contributor Donna Seaman felt that the book is "a compulsively readable account" and also commented, "More scholarly and literary biographies will follow, but none will have the vitality and intimacy of this living portrait." In addition, a Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that Weller "does a snappy job of portraying the halcyon early days of Bradbury's success" and called the book "a proficient study of a prodigious talent still going strong." Referring to the Bradbury biography as "ebullient," a reviewer writing in Publishers Weekly noted that "this adoring portrait will satisfy most Bradbury fans." Bookslut.com critic Dugan noted that The Brad-bury Chronicles is "something rarely seen in the world of biography: an authorized, totally readable, fantastic story of a man's unique life."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 15, 2005, Donna Seaman, review of The Bradbury Chronicles: The Life of Ray Bradbury, p. 1258.
Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2005, review of The Bradbury Chronicles, p. 282.
Library Journal, April 1, 2005, Charles C. Nash, review of The Bradbury Chronicles, p. 95.
Publishers Weekly, February 28, 2005, review of The Bradbury Chronicles, p. 54.
Columbia Chronicle Online, http://www.ccchronicle.com/ (June 7, 2005), Scott Carlson, "Bradbury Biography This Way Comes."