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Getting Naked with Harry Crews: Interviews Hardcover – December 7, 1999
"My Father, the Pornographer" by Fang Lizhi
A son tries to understand his late father, by reading the 400-plus novels left to him in his father's will. Check out "My Father, the Pornographer".
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This book of interviews captures the writer (typically having just finished a project) at various stages in his publishing career from 1972 to 1997. To read all of these in one setting, as I did yesterday, is a bit much, because over the years some of the same questions (and answers) recur reqularly, so that it begins to seem a lot like a candidate's standard stump speech. One does see Crews presenting the same stock answers to questions about his use of 'freaks' in his stories, his favorite authors, the impact of drinking (and drugs) on his writing, and his specific writing habits. Still, each interview has at least one moment of unique insight and many are delightfully entertaining. Moments of pure Harry such as informing a female interviewer that despite being on the wagon his sexual powers have not deminished or, in another interview after speaking at length about being sober for a year, he downs several carafes of white wine because he doesn't really think it counts.Read more ›
And this collection of interviews gives one not just a biographic and historic perspective on Harry Crews by giving interviews through Crews' career to offer tidbits of his ideas and progress as he worked through novel after novel, but also provides a good view of the spirit of this man who is currently the last surviving member of the Great Triumvirate of Writers Who Should Be Dead But Aren't Yet (the two drop-outs being William S. Burroughs and Hunter S. Thompson). Harry Crews is a wily, intelligent, thoughtful, wild and generous man. In his heyday, he seemed to have more notoriety for his personal antics than his writing (in the day of the Novelist, the wild character who happens to find some time somewhere to write). While others like Normal Mailer let their public personas take over and let the writing become dimmer and dimmer, Crews took the other route and focused more and more as a writer, another progress denoted in this set of interviews.
But I am most impressed in this collection that Bledsoe edited and rummaged through most likely tons of interviews to find the ones that best presented the spirit of conversing with Harry Crews the man--sometimes rambling and repetitive, Crews is wonderful at talking himself towards great stories and nuggets of wisdom about the working of the world (including the realm of bloodsports) and, of course, invaluable advice about being a writer. Crews talks about writing as an effort of the soul, not just an act of making things up. The articles that are more summaries of interviews are not always as enlightening, but the classic Q & A structured interviews are wonderful here. Many kudos for Bledsoe for compiling some of the choicest bits of Crews that would be valuable for any budding writer.