Praise for Blood, Bone, and Marrow
“Harry Crews was a uniquely gifted and haunted storyteller. Novelist, journalist, memoirist—he made each form his own in a way no one else had before or since. The pages that follow in this absorbing biography detail this and reach into the guts of the experiences that formed him and gave him a voice that was sad, brutal, and funny. Harry said that when it came to writing the truth about himself—or anything for that matter—he was not as interested in facts as he was in memory and belief.” — From the foreword by bestselling author Michael Connelly
“Geltner brilliantly renders the life of the late writer Harry Crews in this well-researched and vivid biography. It captures the wild spirit of an unflinching American writer from his early years in impoverished Bacon County, Ga. , to his years as an esteemed but volatile faculty member in the University of Florida’s creative writing program. In just two decades, from the 1960s to the 1980s, Crews went from working as a junior college composition teacher to being a friend of Madonna and featured writer for Playboy. Geltner traces much of the inner pain in Crews’s life back to his tense relationship with his brother, Hoyett; the suspicion that his father was not his biological parent; and the shocking death by drowning of his young son.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Geltner draws on interviews with Crews, his colleagues, students, drinking buddies, and ex-wife and on Crews’ fiction, memoirs, and nonfiction to produce a candid, sympathetic life of a wounded, self-destructive man. Born in rural Georgia to a family struck hard by the Great Depression, Crews’ childhood was 'filled with violence and pain and hideously damaged people' and 'replete with disease and alienation and indescribable suffering.'” — Kirkus
“Now we have Mr. Geltner’s biography to authoritatively fill in the gaps, and to trace the many stories behind the Crews legend...a lean and pleasingly consumable book by sticking to essentials. He’s delivered what Vladimir Nabokov said a biographer should: 'plain facts, no symbol-searching, no jumping at attractive but preposterous conclusions, no Marxist bunkum, no Freudian rot.'” — Dwight Garner, The New York Times
“Geltner maintains a warm relationship with his subject, allowing Crews’ irreverent, raunchy, no-holds-barred personality to swagger forth in delightfully uncensored remarks and observations, many of them unprintable. We see the faces of the demons that compelled him through Geltner’s careful anatomy of their origins: the poisonous beginnings, the death of Crews’ first son by drowning, and the lifelong, 'relentless feelings of inferiority' that no success could check.” — Gina Webb, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“Geltner has wrought a seamless, briskly paced book that is panoramic in its scope on its outsize subject, putting him in the proper context of the tumultuous times.” — Candice Dyer, ArtsATL.com
“Among the revelations in Geltner’s Blood, Bone and Marrow is the time that Crews, on a 1958 motorcycle trip across the U. S., met Jack Kerouac in San Francisco. Kerouac had become famous a year earlier, when his second novel, On the Road, was heralded as the most important work of his generation. Apparently, Kerouac’s presence intimidated a lot of people, but Crews, who hadn’t published anything yet, ran into the Lowell, Mass. native in a Haight Ashbury bar and tried to engage the shy, Franco-American writer in conversation.” — Jay Atkinson, The Arts Fuse
“Blood, Bone and Marrow offers a compelling, often funny and frequently sad account of a deeply flawed and yet profoundly influential American writer. Harry Crews toiled his whole life against the cards life had dealt him and he went to his grave without knowing the answer to one of the most fundamental of life’s questions: Who is my daddy? What blood runs through these veins?” — Guy Salvidge
“With the power of a spellbinding storyteller, Geltner splendidly captures Crews' blood, bone and marrow by leading us on a journey through all we need of Crews' hell, recognizing that without passing through this hellacious suffering, we can never truly understand him. Geltner's biography compels us to seek out Crews' novels to read, or re-read, and to discover the voices of a South just off the interstates and at the edges of its glittering urban centers." — BookPage
"Crews can rest assured that his biographer, Geltner, has done his job right, splendidly and powerfully bringing Crews back to hellacious, pugnacious, hard-driven life, and living up to Crews' own dictum: "I want my work to turn them back upon themselves and force them to look into their own hearts.” — No Depression
"Geltner is a gifted storyteller and delineates with precision the periods of Crews’s complicated personal history.” — CHOICE
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"Survivor. Sufferer. Witness." Richard Gilbert
Rubber City Review "The Real Dirty South: Bios of James Brown, Harry Crews"
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Obsküre Magazine "Harry Crews – Descente à Valdez / Blood, Bone & Marrow"
“In Blood, Bone, and Marrow Ted Geltner takes on a daunting task. Crews' outsized personality may well be better known than his literary work, and even the latter is filled with material from his life. For this book, he interviewed Crews himself as well as dozens of the writer's family members, friends, enemies, lovers, academic colleagues, editors and former students. He also had access to Crews' archives at the University of Georgia. The result is a deeply researched, fascinating and even-handed biography of an enormously complex figure.” — Colette Bancroft, Tampa Bay Times
“Geltner gives both Crews and his work time on the page in Blood, Bone and Marrow. Drawing from interviews with the author and his friends and family, from his work and from Crews' own letter and notes, Geltner pulls together the disparate threads of Crews’ life and work, his failures and successes, his triumph and despair, his words on the page and the marrow in his bones." — Suwannee Democrat
“In Blood, Bone, and Marrow Ted Geltner give us a fast-paced narrative of the crazy, violent, tragic, and memorable life of Harry Crews. Geltner knew Crews and produces a book worthy of its subject. This is an excellent first-wave biography that will be a joy to all Harry Crews fans and will be an invaluable resource for scholars and enthusiasts alike.” — Taylor Haygood, author of Faulkner, Writer of Disability
“Geltner’s biography, the first of any kind on Crews, manages to unearth the writer from the accumulated crust of legend and rumor....Trying to separate the conjoined twins of Harry Crews, the shit-kicking, vodka-swilling legend, and Harry Crews the person, is a delicate, messy operation. Blood, Bone, and Marrow manages to do it without either dying on the table.” — Margaret Eby, New Republic
"With meticulous care, Ted Geltner has chronicled the rise and the prolonged, tragic decline and death of one of America’s most remarkable writers." — Smoky Mountain News
"Ted Geltner’s Blood, Bone and Marrow delivers the full goods on Crews...a well-rounded, full representation of Crews equally from all sides....The life of Harry Crews is presented in all the hard-knuckled glory he’d desire, while also leaving his faults and weaknesses left truthfully exposed." — Rain Taxi Review
"Why Mr. Crews was such a tortured, offbeat character is related by Ted Geltner in a biography that is both gripping and sad." — Washington Times
"Definitely a fine text for teaching literary journalism, being complete, detailed, well crafted, exhaustively indexed and footnoted and, finally, an absorbing read." — Jim Ewing, Jackson Clarion-Ledger
"If you’re into Crews’ fiction or nonfiction or just interested in seminal grit lit, Blood, Bone, and Marrow is worth getting and reading and having." — Adam Van Winkle, Cowboy Jamboree
"Lively, perceptive....Geltner’s prose is crisp and vigorous, while his ability to evoke the messy sprawl of Crews’s life while maintaining narrative cohesion is commendable." — Ryan Boyd, Los Angeles Review