Richard's Reviews > Celebration

Celebration by Harry Crews
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Nov 29, 08

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Read in November, 2008

Harry Crews talks like a realist, though his fiction often works in a kind of hyperbolic reality that borders upon parody. Crews takes a lot of cue from Flannery O'Connor, as well as he should, though O'Connor tended to more often create characters who were so palpable that they smelled. Crews' best work also has that smell, though this one worked more on inflation than olfactory sense.

Crews has often written aabout his connection to freaks and those with "special consideration under the Lord," though sometimes I think he takes his style to overly outrageous end. Crews is a working writer, who doesn't agonize endlessly over a book but gets out out, bless his heart, and seems to acknowledge that he's finishing it to the best ability he can muster at the time rather than make every single letter shine of gold. This book is one of those. Though not as abyssmal as something like All We Need of Hell, this one smacks of some genuine pathos.

The book centers around the efforts of a woman named Too Much who is out to revitalize a desolate trailer park of a de facto hospice called Forever and Forever. If Too Much sounds a little more like an exaggerration than a character, you're nearly on track. Too Much is the Pamela Anderson of hayseeds, a comic-book beauty who inspires the Old Ones to action with her body. She is cruel and intelligent and a classic mystical figure to come out of the dust to shake up the status quo of a place that suffers for its normal routine. But Crews, as is Crews' style, ups the ante into kink with Too Much's bathtub fetish and her attentions to her handless boyfriend, Stump.

Crews of course finishes the book with some brilliant violence and redemption, but the grand steps he takes to get there are a little much to swallow most of the time. If Stump and Too Much are any indication to you that his characters reside more as types than flesh and bone, I'll shake your hand. But a craftsman, Crews shows his usual mettle - the way he can construct a plot towards suprising and sensical ends is of course the true mark of his craft, though the man may sometimes get a little too into living up to his press.
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