Wolfman's Reviews > The Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World

The Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World by Harlan Ellison
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Sep 02, 11

Read in February, 2011

Harlan Ellison was the guy I used to read while I was waiting for the next Stephen King book to come out, and I have read this collection at least one other time (in Edgeworks 4, the last of a broken-promised collection of ALL Ellison works in neatly bound volumes). This, as is most of his stuff, is short fiction (some of it longish-short novellas) and much of it is (even though he hates being pegged with this title) science fiction or (maybe he likes this better) speculative fiction. Many of the stories take place in outer space and/or the future. I remember what got me hooked on Harlan was his written voice. It's strong! He's a master of voices, his own being the hardest to control and maintain. I noticed it first in his essays and introductions (some of which captivated me more on first reading than the stories themselves: another thing he would hate to hear, I'm sure, but true). Even his best fiction is first-person ("A Boy and His Dog," classic!), and even though the narrator isn't Harlan himself, I can still picture that elfin, mischievous grin at work behind the scenes, daring me to call his bluff. Since there were so many stories in this collection, and since no two of them are alike, I don't think it makes sense to try to discuss every one. Some are better than others. Some, like the title piece, I don't completely "get." Some are pure science fiction done well ("Run for the Stars") and others are genre-benders rooted all too firmly on earth ("Shattered Like a Glass Goblin"). But almost all of them could be categorized as "weird," which is probably why Harlan never became Bradbury literary or King huge. He's an iconoclast and he pulls no punches. At the time this book was originally published (1968 or so), I am sure it would have been considered very edgy, and even now some of it is a bit shocking, i.e., not for the faint-hearted. Surprisingly little of it is dated, and I think I liked it more this time through than last because I was not racing through the stories as fast as possible to get to the next one. As I've done with other books recently, I purposely tried to "process" each one before moving to the next. It's a good strategy. Sadly, Harlan Ellison books are hard to come by, and he hasn't published anything new for a few years. Many of his best stories I have read 15 times in various collections, but there is some of his work that I have never been able to find a copy of. Shelfari doesn't even have a picture of the cover of this one, and Amazon doesn't have much either. I happen to have two paperback copies of this one (as well as Edgeqworks 4) which I picked up in used book stores, and if I ever saw anything else of his, I would buy it in a heartbeat...but it has been a long time since I've found his name on any shelf. Rereading this book was, in a way, nostalgic for me because the other times I have read it, I was at a different place in my own life, so the stories meant different things to me. I suspect this is true with lots of Harlan's other books, which I will probably start rereading as well.
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