Books, Thoughts

Off the Shelf: Blood, Bone, and Marrow: A Biography of Harry Crews

Blood, Bone, and Marrow: A Biography of Harry CrewsBlood, Bone, and Marrow: A Biography of Harry Crews by Ted Geltner

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

2.5 instead of 3. _Blood, Bone, and Marrow_ is one of the first bios about author Harry Crews, a Georgia native that specialized in the Southern grotesque. Stemming from biographer Ted Geltner’s personal encounters with Crews, this book works more as a comprehensive look at Crews’s background & output as a writer than as a critical deconstruction of his books in context of his life.

I was curious to see how someone would take on the mythos of Harry Crews & humanize this wrecking-ball of a writer. One thing that works in Geltner’s favor is the even journalistic tone that will help readers stomach some of the harsher incidents in Crews’s life. However, some of the structural elements of the book drag down the narrative. These flaws can range from minor establishing details (in describing Harry’s wedded suburban bliss in the 70s, Geltner confuses James Taylor’s & Carole King’s versions of “You’ve Got a Friend”) to prioritizing specific events in a timeline (Crews was promiscuous & there is a struggle to understand who he’s currently with & why the relationship is important at the time). Crews’s own quotes in the book also do him a disservice as his colorful dialect dies on the page & sounds like piecemeal ramblings.

But even with these flaws, _Marrow_ is an accessible introduction to readers unfamiliar with Crews or his work. Perhaps it will serve to move this cult author into the mainstream.

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