Saturday, December 16, 2017
Books

Festival of Reading: An excerpt from Ted Geltner's 'Blood, Bone, and Marrow: A Biography of Harry Crews'

In Blood, Bone, and Marrow: A Biography of Harry Crews, Ted Geltner writes about the outsized life and talent of the novelist, journalist and longtime University of Florida writing professor, who died in 2012.

Crews' life was perhaps even more dramatic and strange than those of characters in his books, such as This Thing Don't Lead to Heaven, The Hawk Is Dying, A Feast of Snakes and The Knockout Artist. In this excerpt from the biography, just named a Best Book of 2016 by Publishers Weekly, Geltner describes Crews in Gainesville in the 1970s.

Colette Bancroft, Times book editor

To go along with his running, he had taken up another hobby/obsession into which he could pour his seemingly unlimited reserve of intensity: the training of hawks. As a youngster on the farm he had developed a fascination with predatory birds. During the many hours and days he spent with his grandmother when he was too weak to leave the house, he would watch her feed and care for biddies, young chicks hatched in the pen next to the house. Grandma's biddies occasionally became lunch for the hawks that patrolled the skies of Bacon County. One of Harry's earliest memories was of Grandma's response to the deadly hawks. She put one biddy out in the yard to entice a hawk, but not before she put arsenic on the feathers on the biddy's head. As if on cue, the hawk descended on the farm, coming in low, right over the fence, its red tail fanned and its talons stretched. It grabbed the biddy without a sound, the last bird it would steal from Harry's vengeful grandmother.

As an adult, his fascination with hawks reemerged. "A bird that drinks blood and eats flesh seemed to me then, and seems to me now, an aberration of nature," he wrote. He began to study the history of falconry. He was delighted to learn that Attila the Hun went into battle with a hawk perched on his arm. He discovered The Art of Falconry, by Frederick II, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, and it became his ornithological bible. He decided he would trap and train birds using the ancient techniques that Emperor Frederick had written about seven centuries earlier, using leather hoods and jesses for the birds, and feeding them off his wrist.

He trapped two hawks, a red-shoulder and a red-tail, at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, a twenty-thousand-acre savannah located ten miles south of Gainesville. Soon, he had converted his garage in their quiet residential neighborhood into a coop, nailing plywood across the garage opening from floor to eye level, and filling the top in with chicken wire. Not all the neighbors felt this was an acceptable use of the garage.

He also met with some resistance to his new hobby in the English Department. Word of Harry's hawk operation, like many of his colorful pursuits, had filtered through the faculty. A female professor heard that a hawk had died as a result of Harry and Frederick II's training techniques, which included starving the hawks into submission. At a cocktail party, Harry and the professor got into a heated discussion about "the noble bird," and the temperature of the discussion climbed higher and higher as Harry, several drinks coursing through his system, loudly defended his methods.

"You have no right! You have no right!" the professor screamed as yet another party was reduced to chaos. The scene would reappear a few years later, slightly fictionalized, when Harry's novel about hawk training was published.

Comments
Adam Savage’s ‘Brain Candy Live!’ at the Straz Center: Canceled

Adam Savage’s ‘Brain Candy Live!’ at the Straz Center: Canceled

Looks like the idea of Brain Candy Live! returning to Tampa Bay in 2018 turned out to be a myth.The interactive science spectacular, co-hosted by MythBusters' Adam Savage, has canceled its upcoming North American tour, including a May 5 event at the ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Here are this week’s pop culture winners and losers

Here are this week’s pop culture winners and losers

Salma HayekSalma Hayek has spoken out against Harvey Weinstein, calling the producer a "monster" who threatened her career and her life after she reportedly denied his sexual advances. Hayek said working with Weinstein on the film Frida was like "goi...
Updated: 12 hours ago
What to watch this weekend: ‘A Christmas Story Live,’ Star Wars movie marathon, Hollywood Christmas Parade

What to watch this weekend: ‘A Christmas Story Live,’ Star Wars movie marathon, Hollywood Christmas Parade

OH, FUDGE! A CHRISTMAS STORY LIVE!The trend of live musicals broadcast on television isn't slowing down anytime soon, and A Christmas Story Live! — based on the classic holiday movie and Broadway musical — was ripe for the next taking. Fo...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Harry Potter’s Nymphadora Tonks, Natalia Tena, joins A Celebration of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando

Harry Potter’s Nymphadora Tonks, Natalia Tena, joins A Celebration of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando

The bubble gum pink-haired, shape-shifting witch Nymphadora Tonks from the last four Harry Potter films is headed to A Celebration of Harry Potter next month.Natalia Tena marks her first appearance at the annual wizarding world celebration Jan. 26-28...
Published: 12/14/17
Kids’ books a popular read at meteorologist Ginger Zee’s home

Kids’ books a popular read at meteorologist Ginger Zee’s home

NightstandGinger ZeeZee, 36, is the chief meteorologist at ABC News. In her newly released memoir, Natural Disaster: I Cover Them, I Am One, the Rockford, Mich., native details her multiyear struggle with depression and her life in the limelight. "It...
Published: 12/14/17
Notable: 50 years ago

Notable: 50 years ago

Notable50 years agoThese three books document some of the events of the cultural watershed that was 1967.Ali: A Life (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) by Jonathan Eig is the first complete biography of boxing icon Muhammad Ali, who in 1967 refused to be dr...
Published: 12/14/17
Review: Kevin Young gives readers the truth about ‘Bunk’

Review: Kevin Young gives readers the truth about ‘Bunk’

We live in the age of the hoax.Believe me.And if you don’t believe me, believe Kevin Young, author of the sometimes disturbing but always fascinating new book Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News.In it, Yo...
Published: 12/14/17
Uber Eats is delivering 'free' chicken McNuggets across Tampa Bay

Uber Eats is delivering 'free' chicken McNuggets across Tampa Bay

You'll still have to pay the delivery fee, but the 10-piece McNuggets are free.
Published: 12/13/17
What to watch this week: New season of ‘The Librarians,’ Gwen Stefani’s Christmas special

What to watch this week: New season of ‘The Librarians,’ Gwen Stefani’s Christmas special

MondaySEASON FINALE: The Gifted, 9 p.m., Fox: The team at Mutant HQ is divided on what to do next after Jace is forced to hand over something valuable to Dr. Campbell.Disney's Fairytale Weddings: Holiday Magic, 8 p.m., Freeform: A behind-the-scenes l...
Published: 12/11/17
This week’s pop culture winners and losers: Tonya Harding edition

This week’s pop culture winners and losers: Tonya Harding edition

WINNERS: Tonya Harding The once disgraced Olympic figure skater is no longer on thin ice in the pop culture world. Harding joined Margot Robbie, who is playing her in the upcoming film I, Tonya, on the red carpet this week. While Harding pleaded g...
Published: 12/08/17