“I ain’t got a fuckin’ thing to hide.” Harry Crews (1935-2012) was interviewed by artist and filmmaker Tyler Turkle at his Gainesville, Florida, home in 2006 and 2007 – the result is this fascinatingly candid 30-minute documentary that covers the triumphs and tragedies of the legendary author of such classics as The Gospel Singer, The Hawk is Dying, A Feast of Snakes, All We Need of Hell and others. Throughout the documentary, Crews remains brutally honest when assessing his life and work. The son of tenant farmers, Crews was born in Bacon County, Georgia (“Our main concern was finding enough food to keep our bellies from growing to our backbones”). He taught creative writing at the University of Florida for many years. A legendary hell-raiser, Crews admits in the documentary that he was “drunk every motherfuckin’ day for 30 years.” Somehow, even during the darkest periods of his life, Crews managed to keep churning out great fiction and his books have been variously labeled as “Southern Grotesque,” “Southern Gothic,” “Grit Lit” and “Redneck Macho.” All of his novels are populated with freaks, lowlifes, misfits, lowers and psychopaths. And therefore I recommend them highly – as I do this documentary!
Useless Trivia: Crews appears briefly in Sean Penn’s 1991 directorial debut, The Indian Runner, angrily singing “John Henry” as he is dragged away by police officers.
Did You Know ...
• In Naked in Garden Hills, a 600-pound entrepreneur named "Fat Man" devolves into a sideshow freak.
• In Car, a character named Herman Mack actually consumes a 1971 Ford Maverick, piece by piece.
• In The Gypsy's Curse, a legless deaf mute named Marvin Molar lives in a Florida gym and thrills everyone with his hand-balancing act.
• In A Feast of Snakes, a former high school football star goes on a killing spree at a rattlesnake roundup.
• In The Knockout Artist, a washed-out prizefighter punches himself out for cash.
• Believe it or not, a midget makes an appearance in Crews' first three novels: Foot in The Gospel Singer, Jester in Naked in Garden Hills and Jefferson Davis Munroe in This Thing Don't Lead to Heaven.
• According to Crews, all of his books concern the "nature of belief."