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Celebration by Harry Crews

Celebration (edition 1999)

by Harry Crews

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148480,863 (3.28)11
Authors:Harry Crews
Info:Touchstone (1999), Edition: 1st Scribner Paperback Fiction Ed, Paperback, 272 pages
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Celebration by Harry Crews



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For some reason I plodded two-thirds of the way through this book before I realized I didn't like it at all. That rarely happens to me. But Crews' prose is so distracting, like a horrific car accident on the side of the road overflowing with blood and gore and flashing lights, that I found myself gaping open-mouthed with drool hanging off my chin for entire chapters at a time. And then I had an epiphany during which I realized the two main characters were essentially having the same conversation over and over and over again in a really annoying way. It was just overly clever, sexually charged banter packaged into the framework of a stale conversation. No one talks like that! I suddenly knew that I didn't give two shits what happened to anyone in the book anymore and threw it away in disgust, at which point I returned to immersing myself in Kafka. ( )
  S.D. | Apr 4, 2014 |
So. This was one of the best books I read this year...and I'm having trouble figuring out what to say about it. I'll start start with the one word I am sure about.

Bacchanalian - (adj.) of or relating to the orgiastic rites associated with Bacchus

The story starts an indeterminate time after a young woman known only as Too Much has settled into the senior trailer park Forever and Ever. Or, more specifically, she has settled into the bed of it's owner Stump. It's really a toss up as to which of the two is meant to be the protagonist and which the antagonist as is it soon becomes apparent that while neither can be pinned down as "good" or "bad" it is certain that if they share territory for any significant time one will destroy the other.

Too Much, called so because she is "too fucking much", is chasing something she calls "the chance of ultimate possibility". From the moment she set eyes on Forever and Ever she set too work to bring such possibility to the community. She is effervescent and energetic with the residents and soon gains the affection and friendship of much of the park. In fact, her acceptance by the old residents is probably best illustrated in their eventual acceptance and adoption of her crude and unapologetic habit of scratching her crotch whenever she feels like it, "because it feels good".

Stump on the other hand wants nothing more than to live out his days in the sort of peace afforded by living in the midst of a bunch of strangers shuffling off this mortal coil. He is a veteran of the Korean War, though the stump he gets his name from was the result of a farm accident that led to the financial windfall that allowed him to buy Forever and Ever and go on living comfortably with his Wild Turkey, without really paying attention to if his tenants were paying their rent.

When Too Much proclaims her plans to throw a May Day celebration for the residents of Forever and Ever life at the park takes a turn Stump doesn't like, but is completely unprepared to oppose. With the whole park mobilized with Too Much, either enthralled by her charms or cowed by her vicious coercive talents, Stump finds himself the villain of his own trailer park. For to oppose Too Much and her followers is to be and enemy of joy and celebration. And there isn't much Too Much and her crew of electrified oldsters won't do to make sure the party goes on.

At the most basic level I would contend that Too Much and her crew is emblematic of life. It's furies, joys, fits, violence and passion. There is love and hate in epic proportions all intermingled. She is life cranked up to eleven. Stump on the other hand is emblematic of death. His body survived the war, but it's obvious his interest in living did not. He is a man with no energy of his own. While Too Much revels in the life's "chance of ultimate possibility" to Stump life is just the time that creeps by until his body joins his soul in the ground.

I absolutely loved this book, but it is explicit in ways that make me reluctant to recommend it to friends and family. There is some pretty kinky stuff going down at Forever and Ever and I just don't know who in my circle is up for a book that includes the fetishization of an amputated arm, loose dentures and the sort of violence whose brutality is only matched by its weirdness.

Ah, Harry Crews. You were one of a kind. ( )
  fundevogel | Nov 13, 2012 |
While not up to par for Crews's works, still it gives that familiar humor-rage-nutty flavor of a Florida mobile home park. We have several near us in which these people could well exist. ( )
  andyray | Feb 8, 2008 |
old folks trailer court revolutionized by sweet young thing

2.99 ( )
  aletheia21 | Feb 27, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0684848104, Paperback)

Now from the author the Washington Post Book World calls "the dark chronicler of human vanity and folly" comes Celebration. The newest black comedy from Harry Crews is a biting, brilliant commentary set in a Florida rest-home gulag where the over-sixty-five set checks its dignity, self-esteem, and social security numbers at the door.

Forever and Forever is the aptly named retreat, populated by a motley crew of forgotten wives and ruined men who are waiting for death while working on their tans. The leader of this group is Stump, whose lost arm paid for Forever and Forever, and who believes the silent desperation that infuses the trailer park masks the fact that Forever and Forever is truly a small piece of hell on earth.

This ironic silence is shattered by the entrance of a beautiful young bombshell. Too Much is her name, and that is exactly what she is. This walking bonfire awakens long dead appetites in the inhabitants of Forever and Forever, reminding them of what they once were and can be again -- alive.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:23 -0400)

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