Thursday, March 24, 2011

Knots In Trees


This evening, with a baby asleep in my arms, I watched Erik Nelson's 2008 documentary about Harlan Ellison, Dreams With Sharp Teeth.

The movie is okay. Lots of time on Harlan's famous personality -- confronting the man is like skinny-dipping in an active volcano -- but also some footage of him reading from his own works (which he does very, very well) and reflecting on his childhood. We learn much more from this than from footage of Harlan yelling at drivers on the street.

Among his memories of childhood in Ohio, he shared a specific event that grabbed me by the heart and squeezed comets from my eyes, just weeping quietly holding the sleeping baby. (This baby sleeps through everything.) I don't care to share which memory that was; let's say it was a painful formative experience we have in common, and I never suspected we had such a thing in common but it makes sense. It found a natural place in Harlan's inimitable pose, and it found its place in my own personality, like knots in trees.

Damn, this world is hard. Thanks for sharing, Harlan.

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