As often happens when you meet a writer in person, he's generally a far more cantankerous person in person. He was taking a break from writing and I happened to be in the store while he shot the breeze with some of the fans who'd come by.
One of them asked him if he was going to watch The Stand on TV, since Stephen King's such a good friend. "Good GOD no, I wouldn't waste my time on that crap." Everyone sort of blinked incredulously at him, and I took the opportunity to ask "Well... what would you suggest I spend six hours doing instead, then?" I didn't say 'Is there a book you'd recommend? A movie, or TV series? Tell me what qualifies as good entertainment in Harlan Ellison's world.' I probably should've, because he told me "Christ, ANYthing."
"Christ, get a hysterectomy or something." Which, given that I'm not female, would certainly be a pretty huge waste of time.
A few hours pass, and I read 'The Man Who Rowed Christopher Columbus Ashore' in the collection he was signing. Good story, I think to myself.
About a year ago, I go to a science fiction bookstore with a huge heap of cash in my pocket and remember he recommends, in 'The Man Who Rowed...' a particular short story by Shirley Jackson. There's an anthology on the shelf (Just An Ordinary Day), so I picked it up. Yesterday I stumbled across it and finally started reading it.
Why didn't anybody tell me there was a Shirley Jackson? Good grief this woman could write. Beautiful stuff. Warm, human, sweet stuff. Stuff that makes your eyes widen, stuff that makes your heart warm. Amiable stuff, slightly scary stuff. It's all just- very very delightful. Huge recommend.