Posts Tagged ‘classic crews’

how do you like your blue-eyed boy, Mister Death? – RIP Harry Crews

March 31, 2012 Leave a comment

No one told me that Harry Crews died the other day. I inferred it from the fact that I’ve been getting a lot of hits on my Harry Crews posts on this blog over the past couple of days. It’s been around three years since I picked up and read – entirely by accident, my first novel of Crews’: A Feast of Snakes. Let me tell you this: the novel had such an effect on me that not only did I start reading it again virtually straight away after I’d finished it (which I never do) but I immediately became a Crews convert, hunting down every book the man had written in the space of about six months (bar one, which I can’t find for a reasonable price: This Thing Don’t Lead to Heaven).

So the man was 76 when he died. He’d lived a full and often rewarding life, and if you read his autobiography A Childhood: The Biography of a Place, you’ll discover how unlikely that would have seemed in earlier days. So I’m not sad. Crews has actually written a second volume of autobiography, which he said wouldn’t be published until after he was dead, so my thoughts selfishly turn to that. You can read much more about Crews and all of that on this most useful of websites.

So, what should you do now, and what am I going to do? If you haven’t read Crews and you want to, I recommend two volumes. The first is the novel A Feast of Snakes and the second is the 3-in-1 Classic Crews: A Harry Crews Reader. This gives you the very best of Crews, in my opinion. The autobiography is amazing, and so is Crews’ novel The Gypsy’s Curse. In fact, that’s what I plan to start re-reading today.

Harry Crews was a real writer, and one who actually achieved what he set out to do in the mid-60s: to produce a worthwhile and enduring body of literature. It was definitely worth the effort.

Wrapped Up in Books, Or Two Writers Newly Known to Me: Harry Crews and Alan Warner

October 13, 2009 Leave a comment

I was listening to one of my favourite songs from one of my favourite albums on the drive home from work today, Belle & Sebastian’s ‘Wrapped Up in Books’ from their Dear Catastrophe Waitress album. The central line of the song is “Our aspirations/are wrapped up in books” and I was thinking that it might be true for them, but it must be doubly true for me. The feeling I get when reading a new author I especially like, as has been the case so far with Harry Crews and Alan Warner, is ecstatic. Reading A Feast of Snakes the other day, I had to read several pages or passages a second time, not because I had lost the thread of the narrative, but because the writing was so good that I wanted to relive the experience of reading it. I don’t think I get that sense of exhilaration for any other activity, which I suppose is a strange thing to say about reading, but it’s true for me. I love reading even more than I love writing, and although I do read in part to learn from other writers, my major reason for reading is in the pleasure of it. But I’m such a picky reader that I rarely get that feeling now. I get it from Harry Crews and Alan Warner, which is why I did a stupid thing today: I ordered a few books by these authors from on my credit card, even though I’m basically broke at the moment. You know you’re addicted to something when you have to have it, even when you can’t afford it. I’m addicted to reading.

And I’m especially addicted to finding new authors. Not necessarily new new authors, but authors that are new to me. Harry Crews’ first novel was first published in 1968, but I hadn’t heard of him until a few days ago. Alan Warner is more contemporary, but he still started publishing his novels in the mid-nineties. Take a look at these suckers:

Harry Crews:

Alan Warner:

Warner looks fairly normal to me, but Crews? My God, look at that man’s face. I mean this respectfully: he’s a fearsome sight. The books I’ve ordered are Classic Crews (a compilation of two novels and one autobiography), Morvern Callar (prequel to These Demented Lands, already reviewed) and The Worms Can Carry Me to Heaven. I can’t wait to read them.