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,br>You want to read some weird stuff? You want to know what Flannery O'Connor would have sounded like if she'd been smoking crack and married to a circus midget? Try Harry Crews.

Harry Eugene Crews was born on June 7, 1935, in Bacon County, Georgia. He had a life like a lot of poor sharecropper folks in the South. His dad died early, and his mom married a drunk who would shoot the shotgun in the house in the middle of the night (just 'cause).

Harry had a couple of episodes in his childhood that scarred him pretty badly. One was a period where his legs just froze up behind him and he couldn't walk for months. He later said this was a "psychological" problem due to the abuse of his stepdad. The other was an episode of "crack the whip" where he was thrown into a pot of boiling water, hands first, and watched as the skin on one of his hands just melted off, fingernails and all. He was in bed a long time getting over that. So it's probably no wonder that he's written some of the most bizarre stuff known to man.

If you want to alter your perception of reality, and I'm not recommending this for the faint of heart -- please remember that! -- try reading his novels. They begin with The Gospel Singer (1968) and the last good one I read was A Feast of Snakes (1976). In between, you could try "Naked in Garden Hills" (1969) or "The Hawk is Dying" (1973). You'll find out real quick whether or not you want to go on to "The Gypsy's Curse," "The Car," "The Knockout Artist," and so on.

He lives in Florida now, but he is probably the embodiment of Nawlins, where I sat in the mad dog humidity and read every one of his books one week.

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