A Childhood
The Biography of a Place

Harry Crews
Illustrations by Michael McCurdy

An illustrated gift edition of the classic boyhood memoir


"Crews is, obviously, a unique southern raconteur. . . . It's easy to despise poor folks. A Childhood makes it more difficult. It raises almost to a level of heroism these people who seem of a different century. A Childhood is not about a forgotten America, it is about a part of America that has rarely, except in books like this, been properly discovered."
New York Times Book Review

"A Childhood is the best introduction to his work. It explains so much of where Crews was coming from in his blood-tinted fiction. . . . This memoir has a foot in another world, a weird, old Depression-era America. Crews writes with knowledge and feeling on a wide series of topics, from farming to factory work (his mother later takes a job at a cigar-making factory) to food and sex. . . . This memoir is for everyone. It’s agile, honest and built as if to last. Like its author, it’s a resilient American original."
—Dwight Garner, New York Times

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A Childhood is the unforgettable memoir of Harry Crews' earliest years, a sharply remembered portrait of the people, locales, and circumstances that shaped him--and destined him to be a storyteller. Crews was born in the middle of the Great Depression, in a one-room sharecropper's cabin at the end of a dirt road in rural South Georgia. If Bacon County was a place of grinding poverty, poor soil, and blood feuds, it was also a deeply mystical place, where snakes talked, birds could possess a small boy by spitting in his mouth, and faith healers and conjure women kept ghosts and devils at bay.

At once shocking and elegiac, heartrending and comical, A Childhood not only recalls the transforming events of Crews's youth but conveys his growing sense of self in a world "in which survival depended on raw courage, a courage born out of desperation and sustained by a lack of alternatives."

Amid portraits of relatives and neighbors, Bacon County lore, and details of farm life, Crews tells of his father's death; his friendship with Willalee Bookatee, the son of a black hired hand; his bout with polio; his mother and stepfather's failing marriage; his near-fatal scalding at a hog-killing; and a five-month sojourn in Jacksonville, Florida. These and other memories define, with reverence and affection, Harry Crews's childhood world: "its people and its customs and all its loveliness and all its ugliness." Imaginative and gripping, A Childhood re-creates in detail one writer's search for past and self, a search for a time and place lost forever except in memory.

Page count: 192 pp.
Trim size: 6 x 9

Read more about Harry Crews at the New Georgia Encyclopedia.


List price: $29.95

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Harry Crews (1935-2012) is the author of eighteen novels, including The Mulching of America, and of numerous other works. Michael McCurdy is an internationally known illustrator and designer whose work has appeared in the books of over thirty publishers and in such magazines as the New Yorker, Esquire, and Field and Stream. He lives in Massachusetts.