Dreams with Sharp Teeth is a spiffy documentary about Harlan Ellison, and has recently been released on DVD. It shows Ellison at work and play, and gives an outline of his life and career. It also has some excellent sections (and extras on the DVD) where Ellison reads from some of his stories. He is one of the best author-readers around.
Why am I posting this here? Well, Ellison and Bradbury are old friends, and there is a distinct echo of Brabury's poetic language in some of Ellison's writings.
Ove the years, Ellison has written a number of stories that have plots or stylings that recall Bradbury. (I'm thinking of, at least, "One Life, Furnished in Early Poverty" in which the author meets his younger self; "Shatterday", in which a character is supplanted by an ethically superior doppelganger; "Jeffty is Five", in which a child is eternally young, while those around him age.)
In the end credits of the film, there is a list of people Harlan would like to thank. I can't remember all the names in there, but Ray Bradbury is one of them.
Even if you don't like Ellison the man, or Ellison the writer, this is a very good portrait of a writer and well worth looking out for.
There is more about the film/DVD here, and it can be bought via Amazon and elsewhere.
Talented writer, but he's just nuts!
I love a lot of Ellison's work. I'll have to look for the DVD (when I get a job).
Thanks to Terry for putting me onto this.
I wonder what Harlan's mystery illness is.
Harlan hasn't said that he is dying of anything in particular; it seems to be more of a new-found recognition of his mortality. Although anyone who has been following his book introductions since ANGRY CANDY or SLIPPAGE would know that he has been battling with that recognition for years.
It seems, though, that he has struggled in recent years to maintain the volume of writing he was once capable of. He has been doing battle with chronic fatigue syndrome/Epstein-Barr virus since at least the mid-90s (according to the FAQ on his official website).
Maggie Thompson has been blogging a lot about Harlan in her coverage of MadCon (convention in Wisconsin this very weekend), and her account and photos show that Harlan is very much alive - and much livelier than any of the other 76-year-olds I know.
What I find sad about his interview in the Daily Page is his insistence that his unpublished works should be destroyed after his death (many years hence, I hope). This is an opposite view to Bradbury, who seems determined that HIS unpublished works should get out there somehow.
Let's hope Harlan Ellison's intimations of mortality are greatly exaggerated. I have quite a bit of unread stuff by him, and I intend to move his books up the list again.
The Ellison/Bradbury moment I remember most vividly is HE's introduction to Ray's poem in Again, Dangerous Visions. It's absolutely lyrical - fulsome,almost - but toe-curlingly enjoyable and unforgettable to Bradbury fans.
Posted yesterday by Harlan Ellison on his own message board:
"If, eight months, two years, a decade from now...I am still kvetching, I will shamefully apologize for misreading what I take to be Certain Signs, and I will shrive myself mercilessly for having let you all down by not croaking. Uh-hmmm, enough of THAT!"
Reminds me of comedian Spike Milligan, who had the epitaph "I told you I was ill" written on his gravestone.
And, of course, Samuel Langhorne Clemens's infamous line in 1897: "when a journalist was sent to inquire about Twain’s health, thinking he was near to death, Twain explained that it was his cousin who was ill. He later recounted the event in The New York Journal, using his famous words, “The report of my death is an exaggeration” (which is usually misquoted as “The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
Just spotted an amusing post on Harlan's message board. Normally, I would post a link, but it's impossible to link directly to a single post over there. So instead, I cut and paste, trusting that the author doesn't mind:
Los Angeles, CA - Monday, October 4 2010 14:40:13
Medicine for Malakholy
The stuff of life to nitwit blew hither, here am Bill. I have no mouse and I must spam.
So I'm over at neighbor and buddy Ray Bradbury's house yesterday, eating pastrami sandwiches and drinking root beer.
Feeling in my pockets for such tidbits of internet stuff as might interest or concern, I mention that one Harlan Ellison is said to be feeling a little tired, or fed up maybe, or just philosophical but, whatever the case, stirring the air inside a rectangular excavation with a curious toe, and sending for a tape measure.
Ray's response is immediate. Brandishing his ever-present Commander of Arts and Letters medallion, he commands me: "Tell him to CUT THAT OUT. Do whatever it is you do with that computer, and let him know I LOVE him and order him to LIVE FOREVER."
Only then do we begin dismantling the perfectly formed scoops of chocolate ice cream in their beautiful, white china bowls...
The Oddly Distorted Kid from Rancho Park,
The message board is at
and is primarily for communicating directly with Harlan, who is known to visit and post from time to time.
...is an oath uttered by Harlan Ellison during his encounter with H.P.Hatecraft, Daphne, Fred, Velma, Shaggy and Scooby in
Scooby Doo Mystery Incorporated: Chapter 12 - The Shrieking Madness :
Wanna buy a typewriter?
(Yay, I updated my blog!)
A little bird tells me that the Culver Center in Riverside, California, will be holding a screening of DREAMS WITH SHARP TEETH on 11 Feb 2011. When the Center switches its website from Fall to Winter, details should appear on this page:
Harlan says he will be attending the screening for a Q&A session afterwards.
Was it carrying a coconut?
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