cover image Blood, Bone, and Marrow: A Biography of Harry Crews

Blood, Bone, and Marrow: A Biography of Harry Crews

Ted Geltner. Univ. of Georgia, $32.95 (406p) ISBN 978-0-8203-4923-7

Geltner brilliantly renders the life of the late writer Harry Crews (1935–2012) in this well-researched and vivid biography. It captures the wild spirit of an unflinching American writer from his early years in impoverished Bacon County, Ga. (which Crews devastatingly captured in his most beloved book, A Childhood), to his years as an esteemed but volatile faculty member in the University of Florida’s creative writing program. In just two decades, from the 1960s to the 1980s, Crews went from working as a junior college composition teacher to being a friend of Madonna and featured writer for Playboy. Geltner traces much of the inner pain in Crews’s life back to his tense relationship with his brother, Hoyett; the suspicion that his father was not his biological parent; and the shocking death by drowning of his young son. Geltner deftly examines each of Crews’s books and, without glossing over his alcoholism, shows that the hard living for which Crews was known did not break his ability to write. His discipline and respect for the art were reflected in the motto displayed above his desk: “Get Your Ass on the Chair.” Geltner proves that Crews was not just a great “Southern Gothic” writer, but a great American one, too.[em] (May) [/em]