A CHILDHOOD: The Biography of a Place by Harry Crews

A CHILDHOOD: The Biography of a Place

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The world that circumscribed the people I come from had so little margin for error, for bad luck, that when something went wrong, it almost always brought something else down with it."" Crews, whose luckless family moved around often, claims Bacon County, Georgia, as his home place, a mean, share-cropping, tobacco farming territory where ""an oak stump might cost a man a week of his life"" and ""it was not unusual for a man to shoot at his wife. It was only unusual if he hit her."" When his father died young, his uncle took over as Daddy until drinking shadowed his welcome. Crews spent his early days romping with an aging dog, playing with worms in Prince Albert cans, spooking friend Willalee Bookatee, and creating stories--wild and juicy--about the models in the Sears catalogue. This unfaltering reconstruction features the same kind of weathered regional grotesques as Crews' fiction--like Uncle Elsie, who spoke in tongues, or the Jew, a blacksuited itinerant peddler, or old Auntie on the next farm, who nursed Harry through two severe illnesses and cooked up possum miracles yet shared his catalogue fantasies with childlike abandon. It's a mottled, textured reminiscence of seasonal rituals, periodic tragedy, and indelible coincidence--he was burned by lye the day two cows died of lead poisoning, tasted his first grapefruit the day Daddy went crazy. And it is, as he indicates, as much a portrait of a place as a nuanced personal chronicle.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1978
ISBN: 0820317594
Publisher: Harper & Row