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A Large & Startling Figure

The Harry Crews Online Bibliography


Harry Crews: A First Bibliography.

Hargraves, Michael.
Michael Hargraves Publisher, San Francisco, 1981.
62 pages (plus errata slip), $5.00 (chapbook).

Colophon: "The first edition of Harry Crews: A First Bibliography is limited to only 200 numbered copies. Published in San Francisco, California, June 1981."

"Harry Crews: A Bibliography."

Gann, Daniel H.
Bulletin of Bibliography 39.3 (1982).
Pages: 139-145.

In 1982, Daniel H. Gann published "Harry Crews: A Bibliography." According to Gann, it was "the first attempt to compile a complete listing of both primary and secondary material on Crews" (139). Gann's introductory statements document his efforts to gather, in three sections, Crews's novels, periodical contributions, and interviews and critical works.

Gann chronologically lists the novels from The Gospel Singer to the then most-recent non-fiction collection Blood and Grits with, grouped by year, their corresponding reviews. Crews's critical appeal is evident by the growing number of reviews Gann notes, eight for his first novel and upwards of 30 for A Childhood. Gann lists Crews's numerous magazine and journal publications to early 1981; not included are Crews's five book reviews written in 1971 for The New York Times Book Review. A number of other publications from the early 1970s are overlooked. The final section containing interviews and critical commentary includes seven highly valuable interviews with the fledgling author and a complete representation of the incipient critical notice given to Crews as a young writer.

Gann's bibliographic efforts mark him as having great foresight and much faith in the future literary value of his subject.

Bulletin of Bibliography ceased publication in 2002. More info: Bulletin of Bibliography.

Harry Crews: A Bibliography.

Hargraves, Michael.
Meckler Publishing Corporation, 1986.
120 pages, $19.95 (hardcover).
ISBN: 0-88736-060-2

Greenwood Publishing Group, 1986. [reprint]
ISBN 0-313-27675-7

A year prior to Gann's bibliography, Michael Hargraves self-published 200 copies of a bibliographic volume titled, Harry Crews: A First Bibliography (Hargraves 77). Hargraves' work increased the available bibliographic information and detailed with commendable and painstaking accuracy the physical confines of Crews's writing, the book itself as a bibliographic object. It is unclear, though probably a matter of inconsequence, which bibliographer was the first, since neither records the other's work. [In the second edition, Hargraves cites Gann's bibliography in the Miscellaneous section (F32, p. 86). In response to a query regarding this matter, Hargraves corroborated my assumption: "No, I did not cite Gann's bibliography in my first HC bibliography for the main reason mine was published in 1981 and his didn't get published until Sept. 1982."] The greater availability of Gann's, on one hand, and the bibliographic detail of Hargraves' on the other, sets them apart, but as reciprocal complements of the same endeavor.

A few years later, in 1986, Greenwood published a revised and updated edition of his bibliography titled, Harry Crews: A First Bibliography. This expanded edition includes a photo of Crews and a reproduction of his signature, a new introduction from the bibliographer, and a foreword, "A Few Words about Harry Crews," written by William Hjortsberg, whose novels Crews had reviewed for The New York Times Book Review in 1971.

In the introduction, Hargraves provides the barest facts pertinent to Crews's life, then describes his association with Crews—"I have had the pleasure to have known Harry Crews, on and off, for over fifteen years" (Hargraves ix)—and his appreciation for Crews's influence on his literary development. The introduction also provides insight on material which, at the time, was not yet but soon to be published.

Six sections comprise the revised edition: original books, contributions to other books, contributions to periodicals, interviews, biographical or critical works, miscellaneous items, and an index. Like the first edition, it contains "facsimile title pages to the first editions" (Hargraves 77), reproductions of the title pages from The Gospel Singer to 2 by Crews.

The first section details several descriptive elements for the first editions of each hardback and, if applicable, each first paperback. Physical descriptions cover the copyright pages, collations and contents, binding and dust jacket, paper, and publication (including original list price and number of copies printed). Hargraves lists citations for the book's major reviews. Hargraves also provides reference numbers for the individual works that make up the non-fiction collections to their corresponding periodical appearances. The bibliographic information in this section is comprehensive, accurate, and reliable.

The second section details the small number of books to which Crews has contributed. Hargraves provides a citation, copyright data, pagination, and relevant publication notes.

The third section is a chronological listing of citations for Crews's essays, book reviews, non-fiction articles, and short stories. For book reviews, Hargraves indicates the author and title of the book under review. Because of Crews's regular columns in Esquire during the mid-1970s, the list captures the majority of Crews's magazine contributions up to 1985. As well, the list accounts for all of Crews's early published stories, articles, and reviews.

The fourth section covers interviews published to 1983. Several of the incipient interviews (Bellamy, Estrin, Foata, and Jeffrey) stand out as benchmark interviews, considering that by 1996 their number tripled.

The fifth section primarily lists basic reference sources: Biography Index, Contemporary Literary Criticism, Dictionary of Literary Biography, Who's Who in America, etc. Several of the works listed have "biographical" content, such as a citation for "Faculty Activities" published in a University of Florida departmental handbook, Dunham's brief quote and discussion of Crews' drinking problems in "Curse of the Writing Class: Why are So Many Writers Alcoholics?" (1984), and Nuwer's "Harry Crews Plays with Pain," which is, ostensibly, an interview. These bibliographic elements are less "hard" than purely critical literature, and their academic and scholarly significance is marginal.

On the other hand, a number of early critical works are referenced, including individuals who would continue to publish Crews-related essays: Shelton, DeBord and Long, and Shepherd. Much of the critical interest in Crews did not develop until after the publication of Jeffrey's A Grit's Triumph (1983), an anthology of critical essays, all but two previously unpublished. Hargraves details the collection's individual essays, noting author and title.

The list of critical works, however, is not comprehensive to 1984, the latest cited date, an indicator, undoubtedly, of the difficulty one encounters when tracking down unindexed material from widely disparate sources.

The last section, Miscellaneous, contains minimal citations for dust jacket blurbs, screenplay credits, film and video appearances, sound recordings, and Other Screenplays Not by Crews. The information related in this section is of great value since it relies on Hargraves' insider knowledge, information unobtainable from any index or database except through the bibliographer's conversations with Crews and his own insistent compulsion.

For example, book blurbs provide an inference into the publishing industry, how it associates types of authors, their literary domains, with other authors, in turn creating a community or network of writers, out of which evolve friendships, influences, even schools of critical thought or literary disciples. The book blurbs reveal a footpath for the reader; following it one uncovers dusty predecessors, callow apprentices, and reluctant back scratchers. If nothing else, it links one writer's style to another's: inducement enough for the prospective reader. And because book blurbs are not indexed, it is the obsessive interest alone that motivates the reader—in this case, Hargraves—to unearth and document those links.

Under the screenplays heading, Hargraves indicates that Crews has translated several of his own novels into screenplays, none of which have been produced. Hargraves credits Crews with two additional screenplays not originating from his own work. For each screenplay cited, Hargraves notes the producers, stars, and other parties who posed interest in the work. While Crews's screenplays have yet to see production, Hargraves' bibliographic contribution records his otherwise undocumentable efforts and commercial appeal.

Harry Crews: A Bibliography has the utilitarian quality of a working-person's glove, dependable and purposeful, and by virtue of the bibliographer's proximity to the subject, claims the ascendance of a secret-society handshake: "I have had the pleasure to have talked with him at length, kill a few beers together and take photographs of him." (Hargraves ix). Hargraves' attention to detail and insider's annotations qualifies the lasting significance of the bibliography.

More info: Greenwood Publishing Group.

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A Large & Startling Figure: The Harry Crews Online Bibliography
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