Readersforum's Blog

February 29, 2012

What The Hell Ever Happened To… Harry Crews?

By Joshua Chaplinsky

Harry Crews is, was, and always will be a complete and utter badass.

I mean, just look at his face. Would you fuck with that guy? If you’re even remotely considering the idea, I’d advise you continue reading.

Born in Bacon County, Georgia in 1935, this poor country boy lived through more shit by the age of seven than most of us experience in a lifetime. He was only twenty one months old when his father died of a heart attack, leaving his mother to raise the children and work the family farm. It was a burden she couldn’t handle by herself, so she married her brother in-law out of necessity. In his essay, “Mama Pulled The Load Alone,” Crews describes his stepfather as “…a man who might have been a good husband had he not been a brutal drunk.” [1]

But that was the least of his worries. He had a hard enough time doing a little something called “staying alive.” In the 2007 documentary, Survival Is Triumph Enough, Crews tells the story of how baby Harry popped lye like candy and had to be rushed to the doctor. On a horse-drawn cart. If he had swallowed the stuff, it would have killed him from the inside.

At the age of five he contracted polio, which caused the muscles in his legs to tighten, drawing his heels all the way back against his buttocks. He was bedridden for six weeks, and it took almost a year of dragging himself across the ground before he could walk again.* Shortly after regaining the use of his legs, Crews fell into a pot of scalding water used for hog butchering. From his autobiography, A Childhood (which is a MUST read) :

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