Harry Crews (Harry Eugene Crews) Biography
(1935– ), (Harry Eugene Crews), A Childhood: The Biography of a Place, The Gospel Singer
American novelist and short-story writer, born in Bacon County, Georgia; he served in the US Marine Corps (1953–6) then graduated from the University of Florida in 1960 where he taught and became professor of English in 1974. His early life was marked by poverty, extreme violence, the separation of his parents, and the premature death of his father. The horror of his background, as well as its particular wonders, is described in A Childhood: The Biography of a Place (1978) which records the extraordinary delineaments of a usually unremarked existence. His novels include The Gospel Singer (1968), Naked in Garden Hills (1969), Car (1972), The Gypsy's Curse (1974), A Feast of Snakes (1976), All We Need of Hell (1987), The Knockout Artist (1988), and Scar Lover (1992); Classic Crews (1993), which includes A Childhood, is an ideal introduction to his work. He is a satirist of biting wit, whose novels feature grotesques and misfits, frequently in bizarre situations and settings, who search for meaning and belief in a materialistic world of violence and sex. The relationship between disfigurement and identity is a central preoccupation of his writing which offers a stark contrast to the idea of perfectability which pervades much of American culture. Though his work tends to drift towards symbolism as it moves further away from his past, it nevertheless retains a unique vision and a distinctive style.