Around the time of Ray Bradbury’s death this year, I read that, in spite of being known as a science fiction writer, he technically considered most of his work to be fantasy. His short story “The Picasso Summer” happens to be neither (at least according to my definitions).
Have you ever had an experience (read a book, heard a song, looked at a work of art, met someone) that was so meaningful that you couldn’t explain it to anyone else? And even if you did, you knew they wouldn’t understand.
George Smith has a brief and wordless meeting with Picasso on a beach in France. I say wordless because Smith and Picasso have no conversation. Smith simply observes Picasso doing what he does best. However, Bradbury’s words in describing this chance encounter are nothing short of poetic.
When Smith goes back to his wife at their hotel, she asks him “What is it?” He replies with an understated “Just the tide”.
This short story (it is very short, about 4 pages) ranks up there with some of the best ones I’ve read.
(Below is one of my favorite Picasso paintings, The Old Guitarist, – if you’re ever at the Chicago Art Museum, check it out!)