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problem is that just holding is not enough. In the fervor of human contact, everyone wants more, yet giving more makes life complicated . Connie discovers in "Modern Love" that by becoming involved she gets caught up in her boyfriend's evasion of the cops for a crime he's not willing to divulge. In "Sisters " Stephanie watches her mother become "disabled by love" once again, as she adds Carmine to her growing list of lovers. FamUy and married life take another beating in "Just Married 1959." When alreadypregnant Virginia walks down the aisle with Buddy, she steps into a life of missed dinners, half-hearted excuses, and old girlfriends—only to discover thafs just the beginning of it. Though Thomas deflates many of the iUusions sodety holds dear, she does it with such grace and humor we have to concede she's right on all counts. ^L Reviews by: Leigh Block, Julie Gochenour, Willoughby Johnson, Virginia Jones, Tim Kridel, Pamela McClure, Chris Michener, Speer Morgan , Brett Rogers, Kris Somerville, Evelyn Somers, Kenneth Soucy, Jim Steck, Jeff Thomson REMAINDERS & REMINDERS Sam Stowers When I bought my copy of the new Harry Crews collection, Classic Crews (Poseidon Press, 1993, $15.95), the clerk at the maU book store delayed ringing up my purchase to congratulate me on my literary discernment. The prolific Florida novelist (over 15 to date) certainly has his partisans. Subtitled "A Harry Crews Reader ," this is the ideal volume for discovering what inspires such loyalty . Combined in a single volume are two novels, The Gypsy's Curse (1974) and Car (1979), along with his memoir, A Childhood: The Bbgraphy ofa Place (1978) and three of his much-admired personal essays. The book introduces the world of Crews' fiction and provides enough autobiographical information to iUuminate the intriguing interplay between Ufe experience and storytelling. This interplay is especiaUy rich for a writer like Crews, who writes obsessively about the "hookworm and rickets belt of the South," where he was raised. The fiction and the autobiography are sequenced to show how experience provides the spiritual fuel for the engines of fiction. We learn in A Childhood that as a smaU child Crews' legs stiffened and folded under him for no known medical reason, leaving him an invaUd for a time and that some Gypsies were consulted for a cure, to no avaU. Later in a novel titled The Gypsy's Curse, we meet Marvin Molar, a weight-lifter and acrobat whose legs are atrophied and must be tucked under him in a spedai harness as he balances on his fingertips to please indifferent crowds. Molar is a picture of the artist as freak. We read the essay "The Car," about, among other things, 218 · The Missouri Review Crews' obsession with a 1953 Mercury and then we read the novel Car, about the heir to a successful junkyard who, in some mystical rebeUion against fanuly and culture, sets out to eat a new car bumper to bumper in puhHc. But this exciting intertextuality is beside the point ifyou do not approdate Crews in the first place, and no doubt what some readers experience as intense, dark, visionary humor, others experience as only fury, coarseness and cynidsm. One critic characterized Crews' fiction as a pointless catalogue of maimings , sexual perversion and reUgious mania. So it is. Worse, Crews' dark cosmos is probably more a projection of his inner turmoU than a reUable observation of the world we share. The only real defense against this charge is to say that Crews' grotesque tragedies are truly American in a way encountered in only a few writers. This is the genuine article. Crews is one of that company who because of temperament and experience rebel against the propaganda of American optimism. The same black blood that courses through Moby Dick and Naked Lunch or for that matter The Big Sleep and The Postman Always Rings Twice engorges the pages of The Gypsy's Curse and Car. Further down the maU, I found a hardback copy of Mary Bush's A Place ofLight (WiUiam Morrow, 1990, $18.95) on the remainder table. If this book is going out of hardcover availabUity , I hope it goes into paper...


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