By the Book: Crews' 'strange, sad' life recounted

The late author Harry Eugene Crews was born in Bacon County, Ga., to a family of tenant farmers so poor that, according to Crews, “there wasn’t enough cash money in the county to close up a dead man’s eyes.”

 

A number of horrors marked the author’s early years: a violent alcoholic stepfather, a bout with a debilitating fever, and an incident where he was accidentally thrown into a cast-iron boiler used to scald the hair from pigs.

As an adult, Crews’ creative work reflected his grim childhood. He wrote about the “grits,” poor and disenfranchised people, who relished a cockfight, ate clay for its minerals and bore the scars and tattoos of a hardscrabble life. Some of Crews’ most well-known books include A Childhood: The Biography of a Place, A Feast of Snakes and Naked in Garden Hills.

Crews is the subject of a new book, Blood, Bone and Marrow: A Biography of Crews (University of Georgia, $32.95) by Ted Geltner. In 2010, Geltner had a series of in-person interviews with the author before he died. The New York Times said of the biography, “Harry Crews led a big, strange, sad and somehow very American life. It is well told here.”

Geltner will be speaking and signing books at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 7, at The Book Tavern, 936 Broad St.

THE ACCLAIMED novel Bull Mountain by Grovetown author Brian Panowich is now in paperback (Putman, $16) and to celebrate the release The Book Tavern is hosting an art show at 6 p.m. Monday, June 27. Twelve artists have depicted scenes from the Southern crime novel. Panwoich will sign books, and the band Me Bad Eye will be providing entertainment. Bull Mountain has been optioned for television by USA Network and was selected by Amazon as one of its top 20 books in 2015.

 

FOR THOSE WHO have a keen interest in Jesus’ connection to the Holy Land, local authors Winifred and Harold Johnston have written Israel: Walking in Holy Footsteps (Xulon Press, $25.49), a two-volume book that traces Jesus’ journeys throughout Israel. The books were heavily researched and include maps, photos and Bible verses. They serve as a travelogue of ancient Israel but also incorporate insights on the present-day Holy Land.

SOUTH CAROLINA LITERARY EVENTS.

Dave the Potter, an Edgefield, S.C., slave who inscribed poetry on his pots, will be honored in a two-day, two-town festival. The celebration begins in Aiken at 4 p.m. Friday, July 8, at the Aiken County Historical Museum. Experts on Southern Folk Pottery will exhibit examples from their collections and discuss them with attendees. Local children will read poems inspired by Dave’s writings, and the documentary Discovering Dave will be shown.

On Saturday, July 9, there will be live bluegrass music and demonstrations by area artisans beginning at 11 a.m. at the Edgefield Courthouse. Throughout the day, the Tompkins Library and Welcome Center will feature displays of books and documentary films about Dave. At 2 p.m., the festival moves to Edgefield’s Clay Studio for a program that will feature biographer Leonard Todd and other speakers who will honor the slave’s legacy.

Celebrate Bastille Day at 7 p.m. Thurs­day, July 14, at the Aiken County Museum. Lily Baumil and artist Lynne Harris Rachal will discuss their illustrated novel Crime in Carcassonne (Howell Printing, $15.95), which is a mystery that takes place on Bastille Day. The event is part of the museum’s Sweet Tea lecture series that features area authors. Wine and cheese will be served, and admission is free.

 

 

BY THE BOOK PRINTS ON THE LAST SUNDAY OF EACH MONTH. IF YOU HAVE UPCOMING LITERARY NEWS TO SHARE, EMAIL KARIN.GILLESPIE@GMAIL.COM.

 

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