In a 1978 essay, Harlan Ellison enumerated what he deemed “The 3 Most Important Things in Life”: Sex, Violence, and Labor Relations. Such a succinct list doesn’t encompass all of the writer’s many facets— Ellison the political activist, Ellison the anti-anti-intellectual, Ellison the (self-described) angry Jew—but it’s a start. At very least, it’s an indication to those uninitiated into the man’s verbose, ornery omniverse that Ellison is a good deal more than what he is most known to be: a writer of what he calls “imaginative literature” (but what most everyone else knows as “sci-fi”).
Indeed, Erik Nelson’s film biography of Ellison, Dreams with Sharp Teeth, takes great pains to establish the scope of Ellison’s world, from his humble middle-class upbringing as a bullied Jewish-American pipsqueak in small-town Ohio to his current situation, acting as a reluctant Delphic oracle to legions of SF fanboys (and girls) from his bizarre mansion (known as “The Lost Aztec Temple of Mars”) above the San Fernando Valley.
Click here to read the rest of Leo Goldsmith’s review of Dreams with Sharp Teeth.