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CELEBRATION by Harry Crews

CELEBRATION

By Harry Crews

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-684-83758-7
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

 The once reigning champion of redneck fiction continues his decline with yet another one-joke novel, a farce of hippy-cosmic dimensions. Set in a Florida trailer park for retirees (``a warehouse for the nearly dead''), this crude tale focuses on the life and peculiar powers of a white-trash beauty named ``Too Much,'' a girl who grew up with her anarchist granddaddy in the Florida swampland and whose name refers to her ample bust and bottom. ``Full of the curious and the strange,'' Too Much likes to drive the trailer park's owner to horned distraction. Stump, as he's called for his amputated arm, finds himself ``neck deep in kink'' with the young vixen, who clearly uses her wiles to a greater end, what she calls ``the chance of ultimate possibility,'' which comes from ``hope, faith, and the power of imagining the possible.'' Relying both on ``revealed knowledge'' and plain old madness, Too Much turns around the lives of all sorts of old-timers, from the octogenarian couple who can't stand the smell of each other to the ancient lumberjack who finds within himself the strength for one last job. Part of Too Much's plan is a Mayday celebration, complete with maypole and costumes, all intended to bring the ``touch of life'' to the old folks. With the help of a retired carpenter, a former bank president, and an itchy old pickpocket, Too Much takes over the community. Her can-do philosophy often works as shock therapy for the more stodgy residents, but most simply find joy in her exuberance. Stump, meanwhile, drowns himself in booze, waiting for his next session of outrageous sex with Too Much, who dispenses her favors shrewdly. Not unlike what's done in the film Cocoon, Crews (The Mulching of America, 1995, etc.) faces ``age and death and time'' with lots of simple bromides, barely disguised by all his tough-guy posturing and his primitive sexual notions. Lowbrow comedy, not literary wit.