March 31, 2012


Harry Crews, Writer of Dark Fiction, Is Dead at 76 (MARGALIT FOX, 3/29/12, NY Times)

Harry Eugene Crews was born on June 7, 1935, in Alma, Ga., a rural community near the Okefenokee Swamp where, he later wrote, "there wasn't enough cash money in the county to close up a dead man's eyes." There was rarely enough to eat; local people supplemented their diet with clay for the minerals it contained.

His father, Ray, a tenant farmer, died before Harry was 2. Not long afterward his mother, Myrtice, married Ray's brother, a violent alcoholic.

"We lived on a series of tenant farms," Mr. Crews told The New York Times in 1978. "The kinds of places where you could lay awake at night and look through the roof and see the stars and you could fish for chickens through the big wide cracks in the floor by tying a piece of tobacco twine to a fish hook."

Young Harry loved stories, but there were few books to be had. Instead, his narrative gifts took root in the Sears Roebuck catalog. "Things were so awful in the house that I'd fantasize about the people in the catalog," he said in the same interview. "They all looked so good and clean and perfect, and then I'd write little stories about them."

When Harry was about 5, an illness, possibly polio, paralyzed his legs for a time, causing them to fold up behind him in unremitting spasm. A parade of family, faith healers and the merely curious passed before his sickbed, gawking, he later said, as if he were something in a carnival.

About a year later, recovered from his illness, he fell into a cauldron of scalding water used to slough the skin off slaughtered hogs. It sloughed off his skin. Once more, he was bedridden. [...]

For many years, as Mr. Crews openly discussed in interviews, alcohol was his anesthetic of choice. He stopped drinking in the late 1980s.

"I had an ex-wife and I had an ex-kid and I had an ex-dog and I had an ex-house and I'm an ex-drunk," he told The Times in 2006. "I've supported whores and dopers and drunks and bartenders. Thank God I don't do that anymore."

Enhanced by Zemanta

Posted by at March 31, 2012 5:32 AM

blog comments powered by Disqus