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The Mulching of America

3.47  ·  Rating Details ·  458 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
Determined to win Soaps for Life's annual sales contest, Hickum Looney is thrilled when he finds the perfect customer in a little old lady, but he still has to contend with the Boss, who outsells his salesmen every year. Reprint. 15,000 first printing. NYT. K.
Paperback, 272 pages
Published October 24th 1996 by Touchstone (first published 1995)
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Truth in Reviewing: I didn't finish this, didn't even make it to page 100. But I read far enough to know that I really just had no desire to punish myself further. Crews mines the seamy underbelly of the white trash south for yuks, and it's funny for a while. But subtlety is not part of his arsenal, so things just get weirder and weirder, until you're in a universe so bizarrely warped, you wonder what the point of reading on might be.

So I could (barely) forgive hi
Philip Fracassi
Aug 26, 2011 Philip Fracassi rated it it was ok
Shelves: modern-lit
Whatever. I don't get Crews. Sorry, wish I did...but I don't.

I don't necessarily trust writers from Florida, in general.
Aug 16, 2007 John-Christian rated it liked it
Not my favorite Crews but still strong on his vivid depiction of out-of-the-mainstream characters and their stories.
May 20, 2009 Sharon rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009-faves
Funny and disturbing indictment of the business of sales in America and how it affects the soul - imagine Coupland, O'Connor, Palahniuk thrown together in a blender.
Aug 04, 2013 Lester rated it it was amazing
I have not read a better book by Harry Crews.
This is an amazing book!!
Nov 12, 2016 Daniel rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
Bailed after 120 pages. It's like an imitation of Thomas Berger's sensibility that doesn't really work, since Crews isn't as funny. I chuckled once in the first chapter, but it then became unbelievably dull in its attempt to shock the reader. You know what's really shocking in a book? Good writing.
Mar 22, 2010 J rated it it was ok
I was introduced to Harry Crews when I happened upon a collection of his essays entitled Florida Frenzy and I have to admit that I expected more from this novel than it delivered. I'm not giving up on Crews, but this certainly didn't live up to the hype surrounding him nor the intriguing nature of his essays. It starts out interesting enough, with engrossing characters and a setting that presents Hickum Looney as an everyman living an entirely futile existence. About halfway, the book starts ...more
Jan 19, 2008 Rachel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: southern-grit
(written 12/02)

Great book about a soap company and soap salesmen. The characters are all perfectly weird, and the Company is some kind of Higher Power. Elmo Jorovah is the Boss (Jehovah?) and the employees, unquestioning, take his Word, the Sales Manual, as law and guidance for their lives. The Manual is often incorrect on purpose, and everything the salesmen say comes straight from it. The Boss seems to see all and hear all, uses his omnipotence to scare everyone into believing. Sounds familiar
Jul 11, 2012 Mike rated it liked it
"A company of integrity and honor conrtols everything" Such is the credo of Soaps for Life. Join Hickum Looney, ace salesman and glutton for punishment, in his 25th year of door to door activity for the company. Meet The Boss, Ida Mae, Slimy, and a whole cast of surreal characters guaranteed to keep your head spinning from the absurd work Crews delivers. If you enjoy the likes of Thomas Berger and Joseph Heller, Crews is absolutely worth diving into. If you like the straight stuff that doesn't ...more
Lynn Demarest
Oct 10, 2014 Lynn Demarest rated it liked it
It kills me to give this only three stars, and perhaps the fault is my own, but after a successful takeoff the novel for me seemed to veer off course and sputter out.

The Boss takes on three names (father, son, holy spirit) and then hands over the reigns to the old lady who helped Hickum make his sales record, who turns out to be just as inhuman as he was, sends the boss to the mulcher, where everyone winds up.

Then a murder I didn't care about because I didn't really know Slimy. And then Slimy
Sep 13, 2010 wally rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crews
another great story from harry crews. a soap salesman, a girl, other folk. harry uses a finnish word in this one, maybe the longest one-word palindrome in the world:

saippuakivikauppias: door to door soap salesman. hickum looney.

"jesus scared the hell out of hickum, not because he was a believer but because he was superstitious."

"people nowadays don't seem to know what's public and what's private. they just go ahead and tell anything and everything."

...hickum, having "caught the scent of blood sp
Jodi Mae
Talk about death of a salesman, of occupy wall street, or corporate control of everything and everyone, of zombie like slaves to the wage. This funny, colorful, horrifying book foresees it all. Written in 1995: Truth is no stranger than strange fiction. The most important book of the 20th century. Should be read by all high school seniors before they make that leap into college and adult world. Maybe it will make them think before they leap into that dark mulch pile abyss.
Feb 12, 2013 Arthur rated it really liked it
I am entertained repeatedly by Crews' imaginative situations and off beat characters. He keeps the preaching to a minimum, even though the overarching theme of the corporate workers (slaves) being mulched by the soulless corporation is clear. The work is a Southern Gothic reflection of Death of a Salesmen with a lot more humor. I've like his writing well enough to have gone on to read his novel - Celebration.
Apr 26, 2016 Richard rated it liked it
I don't think I have read a Harry Crews book I haven't enjoyed, and this was no exception. It is a relatively short book with a compact story [can't go into to too much detail for fear of spoiling it]. The characters are all well drawn and highly entertaining, and for fans of Muscle Russell he makes a cameo appearance. As usual the book is incredibly funny is a dark and twisted way, but in doing so is making a serious point about society. If you like Crews you'll love this.
Abe Something
Jul 18, 2014 Abe Something rated it it was amazing
Everybody just does what they're told and the world grinds on.

I loved this book. It was my first experience with Harry Crews, who I only knew as the namesake of a Kim Gordon/Lydia Lunch project. Crews is very funny. I thought the plot and movement were a bit like Pynchon crossed with Brautigan, or maybe just a funny Ballard.

Killer book.
Nick Black
Dec 03, 2008 Nick Black rated it it was ok
I'd totally forgotten about reading this book until Alan put it on his to-read shelf, and realize now that I don't really remember a single detail :/. I went and opened it up, and recognized the beginning and end, but...what happened to that part of my brain? Alas. Sorry for that rather uninformative review, everyone.
Sabrina Robinson
Sep 02, 2007 Sabrina Robinson rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who loves southern culture and not in a condescending way
Shelves: fiction-drama
I didn't get the ending, but after some discussion with others I am going to re-read it. Be prepared to stare in admiration mingled with disgust at the words on the page. Where does he get these people? I live in the south and I worry that I actually do know people like this who seem completely normal to me until I read about them in a book. I think I have lost perspective.
Tom Hancock
Mar 13, 2012 Tom Hancock rated it it was ok
This was my first reading of Harry Crews. The Mulching Of America started off pretty good but ran out of gas. However, I did enjoy Harry Crews' style. I want to read The Gospel Singer and Feast Of Snakes. If any one has read them please let me know how they were.
May 28, 2013 Martin rated it really liked it
Funny and less violent than Feast of Snakes. more humor than violence. Awesome ending. Let's stay out of the mulcher.
Irl Barefield
Nov 28, 2007 Irl Barefield rated it it was amazing
for everyone into reading gonzo accoutns of what might be called southern "white trash' culture, written with an endearing fascination.
Lucas Molandes
Lucas Molandes rated it it was ok
Aug 11, 2016
Tara rated it it was ok
Feb 19, 2013
Sharone Cabán Neuhoff
Sharone Cabán Neuhoff rated it it was amazing
Feb 04, 2014
Josh rated it really liked it
Jul 13, 2007
Jeremiah rated it really liked it
Feb 04, 2016
Jun 19, 2013 Layne rated it really liked it
One of the best novels by harry crews, they are all so great!

Eric Brown
Eric Brown rated it it was amazing
May 02, 2012
Bryan Crane
Bryan Crane rated it it was amazing
Sep 13, 2007
Mike rated it it was ok
Aug 13, 2009
Beverly Bentley
Beverly Bentley rated it really liked it
May 21, 2008
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Harry Eugene Crews was born during the Great Depression to sharecroppers in Bacon County, Georgia. His father died when he was an infant and his mother quickly remarried. His mother later moved her sons to Jacksonville, Florida. Crews is twice divorced and is the father of two sons. His eldest son drowned in 1964.

Crews served in the Korean War and, following the war, enrolled at the University of
More about Harry Crews...

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