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November 2016 Vol. 54 No. 3

University of Georgia Press

The following review appeared in the November 2016 issue of CHOICE. The review is for your internal use only. Please review our Permission and Reprints Guidelines or email

Language & Literature - English & American

2015-32701 CIP
Geltner, Ted. Blood, bone, and marrow: a biography of Harry Crews. Georgia, 2016. 414p bibl index afp ISBN 9780820349237, $32.95; ISBN 9780820349244 ebook, contact publisher for price.

Geltner (journalism, Valdosta State Univ.) has written the first full-length biography of writer Harry Crews (1935–2012), a larger-than-life literary figure whose first novel, The Gospel Singer (1968), earned him critical acclaim and a professorship at the University of Florida. Born in rural Georgia during the Great Depression, Crews later produced more than a dozen novels, along with screenplays, collections of short fiction, and a celebrated memoir, A Childhood: The Biography of a Place (1978). As Geltner's title suggests, Crews’s life was characterized by hardship and tragedy, and his outsize personality inspired both ire and adoration among students, critics, and colleagues. Crews’s work has been compared to that of the southern literary elite—including Carson McCullers, Flannery O’Connor (whom he greatly admired), and William Faulkner—due in part to his development of grotesque motifs and his precision as a literary prose stylist. Geltner is himself a gifted storyteller and delineates with precision the periods of Crews’s complicated personal history. A comprehensive survey of the artist’s life and work, Blood, Bone, and Marrow tells the enthralling story of a writer fiercely devoted to his craft.

--J. D. Harding, Saint Leo University

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers.