Sunday, June 14, 2009

Dreams with Sharp Teeth

When I was a kid reading the SF digests back in the '50s, one of the new writers to come along was Harlan Ellison. I soon started seeing his stories all over the place, including a lot that I didn't know were his stories because they had other names on them. I liked nearly all of them, and I've been following his career just about ever since. His work has changed a lot since those days so long ago, and he doesn't think much of those stories I liked. But for me at the time, they were great stuff. Naturally when I heard there was a documentary about Ellison, I knew I had to see it, and the other night, I did.

Dreams with Sharp Teeth has interviews with people who knew Ellison, but it's mostly Ellison himself, telling tales, reading from his stories, being himself. I found it irresistible, though as Ellison says, he's great dinner company, but you probably wouldn't want to live with him. He doesn't hold anything back, ever. For him, there are no battles not worth fighting. He's a fascinating guy, a fine oral storyteller, and a superb interpreter of his own writing.

My only complaint is that Ellison didn't tell anything about breaking into the SF field, about living and writing in New York, his association with Regency Books, and so on. I wish he'd write about those early days. It would be fascinating reading. The fact that those things are glossed over in the film, however, shouldn't stop you from seeing it. If you've enjoyed Ellison's work, you owe it to yourself to take a look.

Update: I've been informed that this is now available on iTunes. Check it out.


pattinase (abbott) said...

Love documentaries. Thanks for the tip.

Mark Justice said...

We loved this. Once you start watching, you can't look away.

Rick R. said...

I'm afraid I'm one of those who never really "got" Ellison. I read DANGEROUS VISIONS when it was published, and thought then, and again when I tried to reread it a decade later, that the stories were overly clever, as if the author were trying too hard.

Yes, he was published everywhere, and not just his fiction, but his personality was everywhere, he was a bad boy author and seemed to cultivate the image.

So I guess I'll skip this one.

Graham Powell said...

I saw part of this and it was really good. I especially like him reminiscing about his father in Cleveland, and getting teary eyed. Who knew he was sentimental?