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A Feast of Snakes
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Group Reads: Pre-1990 > A Feast of Snakes, Initial Impressions, December, 2015

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message 1: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Here's one that will have you hesitating before you reach into that Christmas stocking. Ahem. If it rattles, DON'T! So, as you begin reading A Feast of Snakes by Harry Crews, what do you think about it?


Jonathan | 30 comments :A Feast of Snakes was my first Crews book and I loved it. I'd like to read it again so I'll have to see if I can join in.


message 3: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Jonathan wrote: ":A Feast of Snakes was my first Crews book and I loved it. I'd like to read it again so I'll have to see if I can join in."

Jonathan, please do. I have my copy ready. This will be a re-read for me, too. It's well worth it.


message 4: by Laura, "The Tall Woman" (new) - rated it 4 stars

Laura | 2276 comments Mod
This book has been both on my physical bookshelf at home and my TBR shelf on GR for ages, so I am anxious to get to this one this month. Hopefully, it's the next on my list. I loved Crews writing in A Childhood, the Biography of a Place and I am sure this one will not disappoint. So, if we do have nightmares, should we point a finger at LeAnne for nominating?


message 5: by Jason (last edited Dec 06, 2015 10:37AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jason (desiderio) | 38 comments So I am about halfway through this novel; it is my introduction to Harry Crews and all I can say is what a way to dive in! Quite dark, with a few laughs here and there (the name "Hard Candy Sweet" also made me choke with laughter...as did Big Joe's warped logic...i.e. telling Joe Lon to go to church and not to use curse words when he is killing his dog on a treadmill). It does remind me of O'Connor with Crews' employment of the grotesque and the bizarre but O'Connor seems more realistic to me.


message 6: by Doug H (new)

Doug H I got to page 45 and couldn't handle it, so had to drop it - at least for awhile. I'm no church lady, but I'm not into the vulgar language and the animal cruelty is pretty freaking harsh. The poor rat, the poor dog, the poor snakes!

Meanwhile, I'll just be sitting over here in the corner with Miss Eudora Welty as a balm.


Jason (desiderio) | 38 comments Doug wrote: "I got to page 45 and couldn't handle it, so had to drop it - at least for awhile. I'm no church lady, but I'm not into the vulgar language and the animal cruelty is pretty freaking harsh. The poor ..."

Doug wrote: "I got to page 45 and couldn't handle it, so had to drop it - at least for awhile. I'm no church lady, but I'm not into the vulgar language and the animal cruelty is pretty freaking harsh. The poor ..."

It is pretty crude, gross, vulgar, and cruel.


message 8: by Kim (new) - added it

Kim Kaso | 601 comments For a different take on rattlesnake roundups, y'all should check out the Moth Radio Hour's February 3, 2015 episode entitled "You're Screwed" wherein a blind man decides to attend a rattlesnake roundup for the adventure. I hung on every word of his true narrative, it was alarming and hilarious.


message 9: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - added it

Diane Barnes | 4402 comments Mod
With apologies to all of you who loved this book, I'm throwing in the towel on this one. I'm with Doug here, just can't make myself finish it. I got to the end of part 1 on page 56, started part 2, and it's even worse. I'm not a sissy reader, but every single character in this is absolutely dispicable. I hope that pit bull kills Big Joe in a horrible way at the end.


message 10: by Kim (new) - added it

Kim Kaso | 601 comments Not sure I can deal with another tough read, just finished We Need to Talk About Kevin for another group which made me miserable for 2 weeks, had to read it in small chunks as that was all I could take. Am going to take a few days off of reading dark books, will try this one next week. One thing it has going for it is shorter length. Kevin was 400 pages of unlikeable characters marching towards mass murder. Sigh. Too much like everyday life in America.


Jeanette (jj5again) | 9 comments Very dark, and I remember that I did something when I read this book that I rarely do. I skimmed and did whole sections in speed read. It was nasty to vile. And I haven't read a Crews book since.


message 12: by Laura, "The Tall Woman" (new) - rated it 4 stars

Laura | 2276 comments Mod
Jeannette, I haven't read this one but try A Childhood: The Biography of a Place. It was very well done in my opinion.


message 13: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - added it

Diane Barnes | 4402 comments Mod
I loved his autobiography, "A Childhood", but this one is a different matter entirely. Not sure I'll try another of his fictions.


message 14: by Doug H (new)

Doug H I can't fairly judge it, having only read 45 pages, and I certainly don't want to influence anyone else in this group about wether or not to give it a try. Many of my goodreads friends whose opinions I highly respect give it five stars, and that includes one of my very favorite authors, Cynan Jones.

I'd like to hear what others think before I decide wether or not to continue on.

One other random thing: I thought I'd never read any Harry Crews before, but in going through his list of novels on GR just now I realized I have. I read Body, but it was a long time ago. I think it made me laugh. I also think Olivia Newton John had a hit single with "Body Talk" at the time. Maybe I'm just confused.


message 15: by Tina (new)

Tina  | 488 comments Doug, I just had a visual of Olivia in those workout clothes and headband. Flashbacks!


message 16: by Dawn (new) - added it

Dawn (goodreadscomdawn_irena) | 252 comments Doug - I can say this much . My Cuz Larry Brown , loved Harry Crews and read every book he had written . He thought Harry was the " MAIN MAIN " ! HA! They finally met and became friends . Larry just loved how wild Harry was so unique! I sometime think LB is gross too and I hate snakes!


LA Cantrell | 1324 comments Laura wrote: "hI loved Crews writing i..."
I'm barely into it, so none of the violence has started, but so far I love his writing. The opening paragraphs about the girl feeling the weight of the snake on her chest as she tightened up, tense and breathless and happy, reminded me immediately of The Plague of Doves where a woman takes up with a crazy fundamentalist Christian dude and ends up feeling maternal toward the vipers. She lets them sleep in bed with her to keep them warm and feels no fear, just love when they choose to snuggle up on the skin above her beating heart. Or something like that.

The languages is especially authentic, so far. Maybe this wasn't the brightest idea for the holidays, but I've had this book since late September and needed an excuse to read it.


LA Cantrell | 1324 comments I have a history with snakes for Christmas.

We have a couple of little fake trees, but the hub insists on buying an enormo real tree for the offspring every year. One December, a massive cold front had come through and rained like crazy for three days. As soon as it cleared, we hauled the kids out to a tree lot we'd never been to before. It was COOOOLD!

We picked a big old tree FAST, loaded it, and got a neighbor to help us get it inside and upright. Massive. And so tall, I had to move it ten feet away from the wall so the tippy-top would move into the higher vaulted part of the ceiling without scraping.

As for getting lights on it, we used two step ladders and had to toss the lights way up over the top, back and forth to each other. Exhausted, we called it a night and left the pair of ladders up to get the decorations on the next night.

Monday morning, I'm home alone with the two cats & the golden retriever and notice that the tree is swaying back and forth a bit. Upon inspection, BOTH CATS are in the tree - at the TOP. They'd each selected a ladder, it would seem, and then attached themselves to opposite sides of the tree.

I got up on one ladder and snatched a cat, but pulling on him made the tree tip toward me. Back and forth, 10 minutes later, I managed to extract them and stick them outside for a bit. What I could not reach, though, were the THREE GARTER SNAKES up at the crown of the tree.

Apparently, the heavy rain pushed them out of the woods, and the warm lights above the tree lot drew them even higher.

There was no way I could A) reach the snakes and B) bring myself to handle them, so I just left them there, like the three wise men. By the time the kids & hub got home, we could no longer find them and just decorated the tree anyway.

A week later, their body parts showed up on the master bedroom rug, staining it a light green that never came out. While it was a messy ending, I'm just relieved that none of the three were pregnant.

CHECK YOUR LIVE TREES BEFORE CARRYING THEM INSIDE.


message 19: by Kirk (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kirk Smith | 102 comments LeAnne wrote: "I have a history with snakes for Christmas.

We have a couple of little fake trees, but the hub insists on buying an enormo real tree for the offspring every year. One December, a massive cold fron..."


That's the best Christmas story I've read this season! "On the third day of Christmas there were three green garter snakes......"


message 20: by Kim (new) - added it

Kim Kaso | 601 comments Oh, LeAnne, "snakes, why did it have to be snakes?" We had a big black snake which had been in our basement, it blended in with tubing left over from a washer. One day it decided to come up to the kitchen, got about half way in before my mom stopped it by closing the door enough to impede its progress. We had about 4 feet in the kitchen, and 4 feet still on the basement steps. There the tableau remained until my dad got home to handle the situation. As one of his jobs during the summer, he preceded the phone company line runners through the mountains in West Virginia blowing up rattlesnake and copperhead nests. (No animal rights people back in the day to make a fuss. However, he got bitten and was sick as a dog, so there was a little retribution). Anyway, my mom's view was that he was in charge of dealing with "critters", and so he pinned the snake's head, got it into a sack, and released it back into the wild some distance from our home. I always gave black hoses a second look after that.


message 21: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - added it

Diane Barnes | 4402 comments Mod
Are we doing snake stories now? Here's mine: When I was a single girl in my twenties, I owned a mobile home. 12 feet wide. Necessarily, in the bedroom, there was only about a foot between the closet and the bed. In the spring, I reached into the back of the closet for a suitcase for a trip I was packing for. Right on top of that suitcase was an enormous snake skin. That snake had hibernated all winter not a foot from my head! The real snake was nowhere to be seen, but the skin was enough for me. When I returned from my trip, I put the mobile home on the market.


message 22: by Dawn (new) - added it

Dawn (goodreadscomdawn_irena) | 252 comments Ok Y'all - I was already contemplating not reading these Crews Novel because I did not realize the title literally meant A FEAST OF REAL SNAKES were involved ! I thought somehow it was symbolic somehow ! I have snake phobia really bad ! I usually have reoccurring dreams of snakes crawling around with me trying to kill them . Sometimes I awaken and I have actually been holding a cottonmouth or a rattler in my hands at the head with full fangs open and I am trying to keep the snake from biting me ! Just like people have dreams of taking tests naked or their teeth falling out , my dreams are of snakes !

So , TO READ OR NOT TO READ , THAT IS THE QUESTION ?

Is there a theme of snakes or do they stop talking about them after a bit . Laura , I could never handle that book where that girl sleeps with snakes .
If this book will cause me serious mental damage , tell me now ???? If you think I may get over my phobia and be ok then tell me ? Tom , our newest moderator you know me ? By the way congratulations to you Tom ! Now John -- what do you think ? You always tell me the truth ???
Everyone put your views in too if you have finished reading ! I would like to think I am not such a wimp !

I Hate Snakes ~ Dawn


message 23: by Tina (new)

Tina  | 488 comments Dawn, I'm wimping out on this one too. I'd rather read about Ms. Eudora. ;0)


message 24: by Dawn (new) - added it

Dawn (goodreadscomdawn_irena) | 252 comments Tina - I bet Miss Eudora was not scared of anything ! I wish I could have been as strong as she was and as creative too ! She was just a lovely woman , but for some reason , I will just bet she has killed her share of snakes too ! Hahaha!


message 25: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - added it

Diane Barnes | 4402 comments Mod
Dawn, for me it wasn't so much the snakes, but the cruelty to the pit bull, the total dislike I had for these characters, including the women, and the scene at the beginning of part 2 where an old man had to envision the people being gassed in the Holocaust to get excited enough for sex. That was where I drew the line. I love rednecks, I come from a long line of them, but these people are stupid and cruel. And yes, if you have a snake phobia, don't attempt this one.


Jonathan | 30 comments I'm surprised that people are abandoning this book, and for that most dreadful reason as well - the characters aren't nice people. I once threw The Great Gatsby down in disgust because I thought the characters were obnoxious and repellent. Luckily enough someone convinced me to continue with it.

It's been over twenty years since I last read A Feast of Snakes and I wish I had a copy to hand so I could join in (no kindle version is available either) as I remember it as a brilliant southern gothic novel continuing from O'Connor where the characters are distorted 'types'.


LA Cantrell | 1324 comments Kim wrote: "Oh, LeAnne, "snakes, why did it have to be snakes?" We had a big black snake which had been in our basement, it blended in with tubing left over from a washer. One day it decided to come up to the ..."

EIGHT FEET OF SNAKE and y'all left it there til he got home? LOL


LA Cantrell | 1324 comments Diane wrote: "Are we doing snake stories now? Here's mine: When I was a single girl in my twenties, I owned a mobile home. 12 feet wide. Necessarily, in the bedroom, there was only about a foot between the close..."

Bet that snake was living inside your box springs for months.
o_O


message 29: by Doug H (new)

Doug H LeAnne and Diane and Kim,

All y'all are definitely Slytherins!


message 30: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - added it

Diane Barnes | 4402 comments Mod
Not by choice!


Jonathan | 30 comments Well I've ordered a copy and I'm going to re-read this once it arrives. I remember it as being a great read as were the other Crews books I've read (quite a few). I vaguely remember the ending to be cataclysmic. :-)


message 32: by Howard (last edited Dec 06, 2015 05:00PM) (new)

Howard | 499 comments Jonathan wrote: "Well I've ordered a copy and I'm going to re-read this once it arrives. I remember it as being a great read as were the other Crews books I've read (quite a few). I vaguely remember the ending to b..."

I have read four of his novels: The Knockout Artist; Car; The Gypsy's Curse; and Celebration. His style is outrageous and way over the top and is an acquired taste. And I can understand why his writing does not appeal to everyone. It doesn't always appeal to me either.

I haven't read A Feast of Snakes but from what I know of it, I have a feeling that it is even more outrageous than the ones I have read -- and that's saying a lot. I'm not sure that I will ever read it either, but I might.

Like many others, I think his memoir is outstanding and it may have led those who have read it to expect something similar in his fiction and to have discovered to their dismay that there isn't much similarity.


message 33: by Doug H (new)

Doug H Howard wrote: "I haven't read A Feast of Snakes but from what I know of it, I have a feeling that it is even more outrageous than the ones I have read -- and that's saying a lot. I'm not sure that I will ever read it either, but I might."

In my case, it wasn't necessarily the despicable characters that turned me off, or the Harold Robbins era sex talk, or the animal cruelty but rather the confluence (to use Eudora Welty's favorite word) of those three elements.

It's definitely more over the top and outrageous than the only other one of his novels I've read. I think my problem with it was that I didn't know what to expect coming into it and it shocked me pretty quickly. I guess I should have expected it from the title, but I didn't exactly know I was stepping into a fully loaded haunted house. On the other hand, if you know to take it as a pitch black amusement beforehand, I can understand how some readers might fully enjoy the ride.

I'm still on the fence about continuing on with it. Some of my favorite novels are pitch black and a nasty villain sometimes lets me consciously work out stuff I'd otherwise have to experience in nightmares.

To those of you who've read it: no spoilers please, but does a redeeming character or a redeeming event ever enter the picture? Thanks.


LA Cantrell | 1324 comments Doug wrote: "LeAnne and Diane and Kim,

All y'all are definitely Slytherins!"


Okay, so I'm not "stating" that one of the three of us is a shoo-in for Slytherin, however somebody on this short list did, in fact, start a discussion thread about Dead Snakes Hanging on a Fence...
*whistling...walks away.."


LA Cantrell | 1324 comments Jonathan wrote: "Well I've ordered a copy and I'm going to re-read this once it arrives. "

I'm digging it so far! As for the weirdness and doggie on the treadmill, I just remind myself that it is fiction. In the first chapter of A Time to Kill, a little girl gets brutally raped and then urinated on. While horrendous acts to happen in the real world, with a book - when I'm prepared to face The Dark Side - I'm usually okay with it, unless it is endless preying upon little kids. No bueno on that stuff.


message 36: by [deleted user] (last edited Dec 08, 2015 05:42PM) (new)

this is not most distrubing book I ever read .Stick Out Your Tongue is.


message 37: by Laura, "The Tall Woman" (new) - rated it 4 stars

Laura | 2276 comments Mod
I am starting this one tomorrow. The darkness is settling in here in Tennessee and I'm not sure I'm ready to read about snakes tonight.


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