Celebration BOOK review [Harry Crews]

Book Reviews
Celebration BOOK review [Harry Crews]
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Jan 7, 1998, 05:09

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CELEBRATION by Harry Crews; Simon & Schuster, 1998

If you haven't read Harry Crews yet, Celebration, his twenty-first book, is an excellent place to start. Set in the environs of Forever and Forever, a trailer park where the “old and enfeebled” live, waiting to die, Crews traces the story of a relationship between the caretaker, owner, and one-armed war veteran Stump and Too Much, who is described this way: “She said she was eighteen and might very well have been—but she would have looked fourteen if she had not had…well, too much. Her titties were cantilevered at an impossible angle, and the unbelievable cheeks of her ass chewed constantly and voraciously at her cut-off Levi's, which were much too tight and much, much too short. And she scratched…” No mere sexpot however, “She felt herself magical…liked to think of herself as a secret shaman, a medicine woman with eagle's claws in her hair…”. Savagely funny and with a wicked sense of the inherent absurdity of existence, Crews points his telescope at this unlikely duo, she the optimist and he the pessimist. The beauty of Celebration is the very simplicity of its conception; Too Much wants to throw a Mayday Celebration, a party for the residents of Forever and Forever. For Stump, any unnecessary contact with the resident population is anathema. Too Much speaks of “the utmost chance and possibility” in life, and soon has Stump proudly displaying his mangled appendage, but can she convince the rest of the population of Forever and Forever? Crews is an author capable of provoking out-loud laughter in one paragraph, and questioning the mystery of the universe and the folly of human relations in the next. Nobody does this better.

-Wade Iverson

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