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Reconstructing Harry Crews

May 24, 2012 | by

Still from The Rough South of Harry Crews.

I was making a film about a local author when I met Harry Crews. He was not my subject; he was my subject’s inspiration. “You oughta put a camera on this guy,” the local author urged. “Get him while you can.” “While you can” meant “while he’s sober.” Evidently Crews had been especially lucid lately, not drinking and willing to talk. So we set up a day, loaded our cameras and drove nine hours south from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, to a gridded section of suburban Gainesville. When I knocked on his door, he yanked it open, eyes wide, like I’d caught him in the middle of some desperate act.

“You Hawkins?”


He threw his arms out like a flagman on an aircraft carrier.

“We got a pisser on either end of the house. You can set up out back. Let’s go.”

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