I bought Classic Crews: A Harry Crews Reader this afternoon. This book includes the autobiographical A Childhood: The Biography of a Place, The Gypsy’s Curse, Car and a selection of essays.
Crews is very readable. In a “down home” sort of way he turns phrases just the right way to make the reader “see” the action and place he’s writing about.
Harry Crews grew up in Georgia, the child of sharecroppers. He spent time as a Marine, a potpourri of other wandering arts and along the way attended the University of Florida and became a writer.
I am a devoted reader of Flannery O’Connor. Crews writes about similar characters. (Truth be told, despite their complication, there isn’t a whole lot of diversity in poor people in the rural Deep South when it comes to characters.) However, his characters aren’t as funny as O’Connor’s. Perhaps that’s because he’s not making his characters up.
Crews writes about the real people who gave birth to his character and shaped his life. (Currently I’m reading Childhood, which is autobiographical. Perhaps I’ll find his made up characters funny when I get to his fiction.)
Here’s the beginning of Childhood: The Biography of a Place:
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My first memory is of a time ten years before I was born, and the memory takes place where I have never been and involves my daddy whom I never knew.