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I'm a Library Associate/Adult Services in Maryland. I'm married. I have three children and two grandchildren. And I have twenty chickens and one beehive in the backyard.

Jun 2, 2009

BOOK REVIEW # 1

Blood and Grits by Harry Crews

Until I took a look at some of the authors and titles that Maggie had listed on her blog as suggested reads for the Southern Reading Challenge 3 this year, I had never heard of Harry Crews. However, Crews’ non-fiction book, Blood and Grits, seemed a logical choice for me because I’m a non-fiction reader for the most part, I’m from the South and I already know what grits are. Plus, the juxtaposition of those two words is pretty stark, so I was hooked from the start. That image of red blood and white grits flew out the window, though, once I started reading this book. It just goes to show ya’ that you don’t always know what you think you do.

In Southern vernacular, a Grit is usually a fellow Southerner. He can be a tough and uncompromising realist, possess an abrasive personality, be a sumbitch or even a shit. But we usually love him anyway because he’s a real son-of-a-bitch. If there’s one thing a Southerner can’t tolerate, it’s puttin’ on airs. And trust me, you won’t find any of that here. If you want a pretty little story all wrapped up in a bow, don’t read Blood and Grits. And if you want to read about people who treat each other with respect, you’ll want to skip this book.

Each chapter of Blood and Grits is a stand-alone story, originally published in Playboy or Esquire, with Crews as the narrator as well as participant. The settings are mostly in the South although one of the stories takes place in Valdez, Alaska, and the time frame is the 70s. If you’re thinkin’ trippin’ on acid, ridin’ a big rig while yakkin’ on a CB radio, or watchin’ Big Oil install their big oil pipeline in Alaska, you’re ready for Crews’ stories.

Just remember, though, that things aren’t always what we think they are. I’ve never laughed so hard in my life. I even had to read many of these stories aloud to my husband because I just couldn’t believe what I was reading. I would say that Crews, at least with Blood and Grits, is a man writing for men. But you don’t have to be a man to enjoy these stories or to recognize talent when you see it. Crews is now at the top of my list of authors that are too good to pass up. This man knows how to tell a story. And you don’t want to miss these.

6 comments:

____Maggie said...

Bravo! A convert! Wonderful! Thanks for giving him a try, but the thrill is that you like him! My dad is many of crews' character and is rather proud to be called an a-hole. He even used to like referee/umpire football/baseball for the conflict! He is also generational poor, so a set on the porch with his family is full of tales - big and little.

So glad you gave him a try, Stella!

Stella said...

Contention - it's what makes the world go 'round :-)

____Maggie said...

Love the word - But! My hubby told me after his first meeting w/ dad that he is one of those guys that doesn't mind taking a punch. I didn't ask him what he meant b/c I knew. It presents him an opportunity to now punch back. But, he waits, he doesn't stir the pot. He lets the conflict naturally occur; thus, these umping jobs were perfect. :D

Family - ya gotta love 'em!

Stella said...

I can relate to your dad. I would much rather lay it out on the table, and I want others to do the same, so it can be dealt with. I'd rather wrestle with something than allow it to fester. I work with someone whose parents never argued in front of her. She said they were the quintissential parents - they even had a cocktail together each evening before the family sat down to dinner. As a consequence, she never learned how to deal with conflict with others and that's been a bit of a problem at work. When she and I had our most recent conflict episode, I told her afterwards that I was pretty impressed with her. She hung in there and pushed right back. And we're still friends : )

My eye doctor has a reputation in town for being an * hole. But I like that 'cause I get to give it right back to him. Fells pretty good, too.

I shoulda been an umpire like your dad...

Missy said...

I'm adding that one to my wish list. Thanks for visiting my blog and becoming a follower! :)

Stella said...

Welcome to MY blog, too!! I sent the url of your blog to a friend at work because she LOVES Morris' cat and dog titles.