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The Reading Room

Writing about writing about music.

Henry writes about music and music books for ND, The Bluegrass Situation, Country Standard Time, Publishers Weekly, and more.

The Reading Room

Writing about writing about music.

Henry writes about music and music books for ND, The Bluegrass Situation, Country Standard Time, Publishers Weekly, and more.

Harry Crews Gets Naked

I have no idea how I grew up in Georgia and then was an English major at a Southern college and somehow managed never to read Harry Crews. Where do you suggest I start?

The best place to start with Crews is his short memoir called A Childhood.  It's remarkable.

OK, thanks, JackM!

I'd recommend starting with The Gospel Singer, if you want to start with his fiction. I think you could also dip in with A Feast of Snakes or Body; any of theses present Crews at his Southern gothic best and illustrate his gifts. I'd save Childhood, which I agree is a great place to spend some time, until you have read some of the fiction. All his novels are now out of print, so hard to find. Durham used to have the Book Exchange, that great old used bookstore, but sadly they closed about four years ago now. Salisbury, not close I know, used to have Main Street Books, and they carried a nice deep selection of Southern lit; Quail Ridge did, too, and likely does still. 

There is a book called the Harry Crews Reader, which has Childhood along with some of his novels and essays as well.  Probaby your best buy.

OK, great -- thanks to you both! My county library system has almost nothing by him (just a few essays in Southern lit collections), and I'd noticed from browsing online that so much is out of print. But I'll look for that reader, I believe, and some of the other titles you guys mentioned. Quail Ridge does indeed have a great Southern lit collection, Henry, so I'll try to head there this weekend. And maybe check some of the few remaining used bookstores around college campuses nearby. It's fun to have a quest!