Sunday, April 15, 2012

Harry Crews and John Green

Harry Crews died recently, and many people posted stuff about how amazing he was. I'd never read anything by him--that I remember--so I put two of the three novels the library has of his on hold. He's written eighteen novels, a lot of short stories, and many essays, including the essays reworked into his memoir, A Childhood: The Biography of a Place, which was repeatedly cited as the must-read Crews book, but isn't available from my library. Powell's has it on back order, $31.25 new from the University of Georgia Press.

Anyway. I read Celebration. I already thought I probably wouldn't need to read all of Crews's books; Celebration proved the point. Well-written, bizarre, and completely entertaining beginning to end--Entertainment Weekly is quoted on the back as saying, "Crews is at his giddy, twisted best." Let's keep the quotes coming: Karen Karbo at the NYT Book Review says, "Shards of brilliance and of the gonzo wit that has made Crews's reputation as a dead-on satirist." Finally, the Charlotte Observer is quoted: "...a tribute to individuality and yes, to celebrating life."

He's a Southern Writer, so they have to quote the Charlotte Observer, perhaps.

Anyhow. I have another novel and a book of interviews on hold--thinking I won't read the novel, probably, but I'm interested to look through the interviews, and eventually I want to read the memoir.


Then I read The Fault in our Stars, by John Green. I put it on hold a while ago, not knowing anything about it except that if John Green wrote it, it'll be worth reading. Which it was--it is--but maybe I wish I'd known what it was about. Or maybe I don't. The main characters are all teens with cancer. It's beautifully done--of course, and oddly perfectly funny and strange--of course, but it's hugely about death, and that was rough at times. It's about death in a marvelous way--not religious at all, but hopeful and full of life.

I don't know what else I can say about it right now. Highly recommended, like all of his books.

And of course it's about a lot more than death. It's more about life, really.

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