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Classic Crews: A Harry Crews Reader

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  803 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
Collected here is the best of Harry Crews: his astoundingly beautiful memoir "A Childhood: The Biography of a Place; " two of his most memorable novels, "Car" and "The Gypsy's Curse; " and three masterly essays, "Climbing the Tower, " "The Car, " and "Fathers, Sons and Blood, " as well as a new introduction to these works by Crews himself.
Paperback, 448 pages
Published October 8th 1993 by Touchstone (first published 1993)
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May 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Ok, people. I don't remember too much about this book to be honest. Is that the books fault? Probably not. This was an entry into the Book Olympics, from 2006/2007, a time unfortunately not fully captured by Karen and I on; but which basically was a 'race' through the entire fiction section of the store by reading one book (already owned, or else a penalty book) by someone else's choosing from each bay (set of shelves). I don't know exactly how many books that is, but it's close to ...more
Kirk Smith
This is a collection and it starts with A Childhood: The Biography of a Place, a novel that can do no wrong. I recommend it to Everyone. The other two novels, The Gypsy's Curse and Car: A Novel are just quite literally freak shows. Skip them. Get over this entire book and move on. **** Go buy a copy of Blood and Grits for some of Harry's best non-fiction. Don't stop there, for Fiction go straight for The Gospel Singer and A Feast of Snakes. He was really proud when South Africa banned Feast of S ...more
I've vowed to spend 2015 filling in some gaps in my reading history by picking a single author each month and reading as many of their works I can as well as a reputable biography of them. I've limited to my choices to authors who aren't one-hit wonders (eg. Heller) and whom are dead (I've a hunch that being alive prevents the greatest possible biography from being published).

Harry Crews is my first author and someone criminally under-read and unknown. I don't understand why we revere someone l
Aug 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Crews does redneck freaks like a more modern Flannery O'Connor without being informed by Catholicism. He also cusses a lot more. Really this should be broken up into a number of reviews, but I'm too lazy for that. Car is perhaps my favorite Crews book, which is enough for this collection to be worthwhile, though the essays and childhood biography are excellent as well.
Charles Stahl
Nov 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I had never heard of Harry Crews until I read the recommendations of one of the employees of book soup. And I am glad that I did. This is an interesting book in that it's at once autobiographical, (although not an autobiography, but a collection of real-life anecdotes) and fiction - a collection of short stories / novellas.

In the 1st, A Childhood, The Biography of a Place, Crews recounts his early years in Bacon Country Georgia, with a family a dirt-poor sharecroppers. Crews has a very gritty s
Jul 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Classic Crews is a varied collection of novellas and short stories.

A Childhood is among my favorite works included in Classic Crews. A Childhood is a beautifully written biography of Harry Crews in pre World War Two rural Florida. Detail perfect down to his facination with the Sears catalogue and the picture perfect people featured therein. Crews writes "Nearly everybody I knew had something missing, a finger cut off, a toe split, an ear half-chewed away, an eye clouded with blindness from a g
Rory Costello
Aug 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I got this book from the library because it's the only really convenient way to obtain two of Crews' short novels, "The Gypsy's Curse" and "Car". It's certainly worth it for them alone, even though I wouldn't give either of them individually five stars (both four). "Car" is a satire that retains a lot of its bite and is still quite funny. "The Gypsy's Curse" visits a favorite Crews theme: freaks (actually, freakish behavior is at the heart of "Car" too). The writing shows Crews' hard-acquired se ...more
Mar 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book is worth the read just for "Childhood: Biography of a Place." Crews had one of the weirdest and most difficult childhoods of anyone who's ever admitted to it, so far as I can tell, and his memoir is pretty startling.

"The Gypsy's Curse" is my least favorite here -- Crews at his most Palahniukian (even if it WAS before Palahniuk). It just keeps trying to outdo itself with the weirdness.

The essays "Fathers, Sons, Blood" and "Climbing the Tower" are two of the best essays I've ever read.
Donal Mosher
Mar 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
The most compassionate of all his writing, certainly the most tender. This book has much of the dreamy ache of Member the Wedding, but keeps that clean, hardcore Crew's voice.
May 14, 2011 rated it liked it
Harry Crews was a fairly unknown but good author of books and stories in the "Southern Gothic" genre (a label he hated). He was also a professor at the University of Florida at Gainesville, and (after discovering his work) I wanted to go back to school specifically to take his courses (I never did).

Classic Crews collects three of his novellas with a couple of essays to provide an interesting introduction to his work. Not his best work, mind you, but not bad at all. The autobiographical "A Child
Debra Harrison
Jun 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is an excellent read from an undervalued, talented author. His work is as forceful as his personality. Crews rights about the poor rural folks of Georgia in his exceptional stories. The first story in this collection is autobiographical and tells the story of the suthor's very humble childhood as a child of sharecroppers. This book was a real eye opener for me. What a great introduction to this author whose writings brings the work of Flannery O'Connor writing about a similat population onl ...more
Jan 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Childhood is a beautiful book, both hilarious and somber. My favorite moments are when the young Crews tells tales out of the Sears catalogue and later when he's boiled like a hog while his uncle runs alongside the slow family car, trying to speed it up on the way to the hospital. The Gypsy's curse and Car are two of his best novels, two of my favorites from Crews. Gypsy's Curse seems to echo Carson McCuller's The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, and the fact that both novels feature "deaf-mute" charac ...more
Apr 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
This was a re-read of a collection of a small portion of Harry Crews' work.

Crews writes clearly and honestly about the darkest of lives, and the tales he tells may not be beautiful, but they ring true. They make for some good reading, too, be you from the South, the Deep South, or Someplace Else. As the great-grand-daughter of sharecroppers, reading Harry Crews is like listening to the stories I grew up "just knowing." Crews "tells the South" like no one else, and as fierce as his stories are, h
Ben Brackett
Jun 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
After reading one novel by Crews, I bought this collection and enjoy it thoroughly. His writing is crisp and no bullshit, violent both in its content and delivery. He makes me laugh uncomfortably, and has a knack for expressing unique ideas that you can tell came from a past that probably should have killed him.

This collection runs the gamut from an auto-biography of life growing up as a transient sharecropper in Georgia to fiction full of his trademark fucked up characters that somehow he mak

Joel Parker
Apr 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Excellent Harry Crews non-fiction, the best stuff from his short-lived column in Esquire, Grits. His short stories featuring the grotesqueness in the Deep South of carny sideshows and taboo incest never disappoint. The Joe Lon Mackey protagonist in A Feast of Snakes is a modern Southern Gothic twist on the American Adam, still a classic 1st person narrator evoking constant his constant doom right up to the last page.
Feb 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is the book that introduced me to Harry Crews. The novels in here are brutal. The introduction (by Crews) is beautiful. His essay, "Climbing the Tower", about Charles Whitman's murderous rampage in 1966 is worth the price of the book. But "A Child: The Biography of a Place" is my favorite memoir. And his essay, "Fathers, Sons, Blood", is one I shared with my Dad — and with my son, Sean, when he became a father. RIP, Harry Crews.
Sep 22, 2007 rated it really liked it
Harry Crews is a great writer generally, but I really love the first part of this collection - its a memoir of his growing up a sharecropper kid in Bacon County, Georgia. Some of his other stories get a bit fantastical for me (like "The Car") but I would very much recommend Crews to those who enjoy Southern gothic fiction.

This is the second time I read this; I guess I first read it about 10 years ago.
Aug 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: so-glad-i-read
Padgett Powell once said that Three By Flannery O'Connor was "pound-for-pound the finest value in literature." This tome runs a close second--Crews' autobiography, which is perhaps his finest book and one of the finest accounts of southern storytelling ever, some of his best essays and two classic novels. Okay, not his best novels, but ones worth reprinting.
Apr 12, 2012 rated it liked it
I only got through about 50 pages--just not coherent enough for me to follow, though I wish I could because he expresses some great ideas and puts together some great images. I just can't follow the tangents and keep track of what he's writing about...
May 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
Really like his voice and his memoir/essays -- would have rated this a five if it wasn't for one story that was well told but whose characters I couldn't really get into. Amazingly clear southern voice.
Dec 06, 2008 rated it liked it
The memoir, A Childhood, is the best part of this collection from tough-guy writer Harry Crews. And the essay at the end isn't bad either. I hope he was telling it true, but even if he wasn't, it was a fine read.
Seth Mann
Mar 30, 2012 marked it as to-read
"She came to understand that all the best fiction is about the same thing: people doing the best they can with what they've got to do with, sometimes acting with honor, sometimes not, sometimes with love and compassion and mercy, and sometimes not."
-From the introduction

Oct 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Loved it. A great mix of his work, including autobiography. Gives the reader some good insights into the author's life. A must read for any Harry Crews fan and a great way to introduce new readers to Crews.
Nov 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
My favorite is "The Gypsy's Curse." I wrote a song about it long ago. I had just returned from a trip around the south and the swamplands haunted me.
Joan Hill
May 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Awesome. Raw, real and revealing. Crews gets naked, as he has said a writer should do.
Job Dalomba
Feb 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Crews is a weird fellow. However the man whose class I had to read this for makes Crews look pleasant.
Matt Phillips
Jul 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Harry Crews. Doesn't get any better. Couple essays here and his autobiography. The novels are short ones––not his best in my opinion, but damn good still.
Jan 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is a must-read collection by one of our most unique southern authors. Rough, brutal, tender, expansive, empathetic, hysterical and macabre.
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Awesome. I read this book on my lunch breaks in the very top floors of the Old Arcade.
Sep 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels, biography
Devoured "A Childhood"- will return to it later for "Car" and the essays. This is not a book I want to speed through.
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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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