Friday, March 30, 2012

Harry Crews: hell-raiser, writer

Hell-raising author Harry Crews, who attracted a fierce cult following in more than four decades, died Wednesday at 76. To honor him, we offer a slide show of some of his volumes in our collection. He wrote 17 novels and numerous short stories, and magazine articles for Playboy and Esquire.

"A Georgia-born Rabelais, Mr. Crews was renowned for darkly comic, bitingly satirical, grotesquely populated and almost preternaturally violent novels," The New York Times said in an obituary.

He was also known for his wild lifestyle and his drinking.

"Alcohol whipped me. Alcohol and I had many marvelous times together," he once told Chicago Tribune columnist Mary T. Schmich. "We laughed, we talked, we danced at the party; then one day I woke up and the band had gone home and I was lying in the broken glass with a shirt full of puke and I said, `Hey, man, the ball game's up.'"

Tampa author Michael Connelly was a student of Crews at the University of Florida. He was in awe of his professor, whom he saw sometimes at Lillian's, a popular Gainesville bar. "I didn't need to drink there because he was the intoxicant," he told the Tampa Bay Times in an email from Paris. "This was what a real writer was like. I thought, this is like drinking with Hemingway in Key West."

Rest in peace, Harry Crews. 

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Our specialties include Floridiana (Florida History, Florida Authors, Florida Related Ephemera), American History, Literature of the South, Military History (including, but not limited to, Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Vietnam, Korean War), Children’s Literature, Maps, Leather Bindings and Rare & Unusual items.

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