Friday, March 09, 2007

Harry Crews A Feast of Snakes

The author Harry Crews has been on my radar for the past few months. I picked up some American gothic novel that's cover compared the contents to the work of Jack Kerouac and Harry Crews. Hmmm, who is this Mr. Crews I thought. Then when I went to the Georgia Writer's Hall of Fame to look up information on Lillian Smith, there was Harry Crews again. Not only that they had a short description of his work
"a dark chronicler of human vanity and folly," an artist in depicting "the world of the misbegotten, the freaks and misfits and malcontents in whose strange doings Crews is able to locate a genuine if quirky humanity."

Now I knew I had to find out more about him. When I went to the library to look up some of his work, I found a book entitled A Feast of Snakes that starts out like so
She felt the snake between her breasts, felt him there, and loved him there, coiled, the deep tumescent S held rigid, ready to strike.

I were seduced. Suddenly, I found myself creeping through Mystic, Georgia. I don't know if there really is such a place where they are about to have their annual rattlesnake roundup.

This book takes Flannery O'Connor and holds her up against the bureau by her throat. The cast of grotesques are combustive, frightening, fascinating. To describe some of the most potent of the scenes could almost belittle it. Crew's most absurd, lyrical, and horrific images would easily become stereotypical caricatures in another's hands. But Crews manages it. He gives weight and muscle and sinew to these misbegotten, forgotten southern poor. His story and his characters would be tough to know in real life, but he gets you inside them and he does it with subtly. I think this is one of those books that I could read over and over again.

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