Harry Crews

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Harry Eugene Crews
Born (1935-06-07)June 7, 1935
Alma, Georgia
Died March 28, 2012(2012-03-28) (aged 76)
Gainesville, Florida
Occupation Writer
Nationality American
Genres Novel, Short story, Essay

Harry Eugene Crews (7 June 1935 – 28 March 2012) was an American novelist, playwright, short story writer and essayist.

He was born in Bacon County, Georgia in 1935[1] and served in the Marines during the Korean War.[2] He attended the University of Florida on the GI Bill, but dropped out to travel. Eventually returning to the university, Harry finally graduated and moved his wife, Sally, and son, Patrick Scott, to Jacksonville where he taught Junior High English for a year.

Crews returned to Gainesville and the university to work on his master's in English Education. It was during this period that he and Sally divorced for the first time. Harry continued his studies, graduated, and – denied entrance into UF's Creative Writing program – took a teaching position at Broward Community College in the subject of English. It was here in south Florida that Harry convinced Sally to return to him, and they were re-married. A second son, Byron, was born to them in 1963. He returned to University of Florida in 1968 not as a student, but as a member of the faculty in Creative Writing. Crews formerly taught in the creative writing program at the University of Florida.[3] In 1964, Patrick Scott drowned in a neighbor's pool. This proved to be too heavy a burden on the family, and Harry and Sally were once again divorced.[4]

His first published novel, The Gospel Singer, appeared in 1968.[2] His novels include: A Feast of Snakes, The Hawk is Dying, Body, Scar Lover, The Knockout Artist, Karate Is A Thing of the Spirit, All We Need of Hell, The Mulching of America, Car, and Celebration. He published a memoir in 1978 titled A Childhood: The Biography of a Place. Crews wrote essays for Esquire, Playboy, and Fame. He had a column in Esquire called "Grits" for fourteen months in the 1970s, where he covered such topics as cockfighting and dog fighting.[2] Harry had a tattoo on his right arm which said: "How do you like your blue eyed boy Mr. Death" (from the poem Buffalo Bill's by e.e. cummings) beneath a skull.[4]

The University of Georgia acquired Harry Crews's papers in August 2006. The archive includes manuscripts and typescripts of his fiction, correspondence, and notes made by Crews while on assignment.[5]

He died 28 March 2012, from complications of neuropathy.[6]

In Popular Culture[edit]

  • Canadian pop band Men Without Hats has a song called "Harry Crews" on their 1991 album Sideways.
  • "Scarlover" is the first track on Maria McKee's 1996 album Life Is Sweet. She thanks Crews in her acknowledgements.
  • Crews was the subject of the first installment of the Rough South documentary series written and directed by Gary Hawkins. The film, entitled The Rough South of Harry Crews won a regional Emmy Award and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's Gold Award in 1992.
  • In 2007, another documentary was released: Harry Crews – Survival is Triumph Enough. The personal format is loosely based on an interview with artist and filmmaker Tyler Turkle, and the themes explored include hardship, tragedy and loss throughout the Crews' life.[8]
  • Kansas City band Season to Risk wrote and recorded a song on their first album in 1993, entitled "Snakes", which is inspired by the Crews novel "A Feast of Snakes"
  • Florida Trend magazine released a posthumous interview with Harry Crews in April 2012. The interview is in Crews' own words, with quotes such as, "I’ve never begun a novel that I knew how it ended. I just start and try to find out what it is I think about whatever it is I am writing about." Another quote: "Listen, if you want to write about all sweetness and light and that stuff, go get a job at Hallmark." [9]

Works[edit]

Novels[edit]

  • The Gospel Singer, 1968
  • Naked in Garden Hills, 1969
  • This Thing Don't Lead to Heaven, 1970
  • Karate is a Thing of the Spirit, 1971
  • Car, 1972
  • The Hawk is Dying, 1973
  • The Gypsy's Curse, 1974
  • A Feast of Snakes, 1976
  • The Enthusiast, 1981
  • All We Need of Hell, 1987
  • The Knockout Artist, 1988
  • Body, 1990
  • Scar Lover, 1992
  • The Mulching of America, 1995
  • Celebration, 1998
  • An American Family: The Baby with the Curious Markings, 2006

Collections[edit]

  • Classic Crews: A Harry Crews Reader, 1993
  • The Gospel Singer & Where Does One Go When There's No Place Left to Go?, 1995

Autobiography[edit]

  • A Childhood: The Biography of a Place, 1978

References[edit]

  1. ^ Elaine Woo "Harry Crews dies at 76; Southern writer with darkly comic vision", Los Angeles Times, 1 April 2012
  2. ^ a b c Walt Harrington, ed. (2005). "Contributors". The Beholder's Eye: A Collection of America's Finest Personal Journalism. New York: Grove Press. p. x. ISBN 0-8021-4224-9. 
  3. ^ "Department of English". University of Florida. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Michael Carlson Obituary: Harry Crews, The Guardian, 10 April 2012
  5. ^ "Harry Crews: Biographical Sketch". Retrieved 24 October 2011. 
  6. ^ Margalit Fox "Harry Crews, Writer of Dark Fiction, Is Dead at 76", New York Times, 30 March 2012
  7. ^ Felperin, Leslie (December 17, 2003). "Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus". Variety (Reed Business Information). Retrieved October 6, 2009. 
  8. ^ "Harry Crews: Survival Is Triumph Enough". IMDb. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  9. ^ http://www.floridatrend.com/article/111/icon-harry-crews

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]