Friday, May 20, 2011
As we examine the writings of Harry Crews once again, we quickly recognize the artistry of writing. Previously in excerpts that we have read from Mr. Crews, we have observed deeply psychological imagery that was even disturbing, but in this piece we find one of the author’s favorite tools of the trade: The Southern Dialect.
In his interview, Mr. Crews expressed much concern for what he felt was the dying language of the South, In this piece, the author’s desire to keep the language and the culture it represents alive and well can be seen from the very first line to its closing.
“I known from the start I didn’t Have no show, but I sure woulda liked to feed in her lilies.” The line says worlds about Buck, the colorful character of the piece. It is direct and unadorned and from what I can tell, the author respects this immensely. Not many authors can master the use of dialect in writing, but it flows freely and comfortable, not forced, from the numerous passages.
Phrases like “solid as bone” and “honing for a woman” weave the entire story together. Often the technique when poorly used will keep the reader at bay, but Mr. Crews pulls us in with each line. It is not so removed that it cannot be understood, nor is it contrived. We can imagine these very words at a truck stop or backwoods saloon.
The language itself tells more about these men than those words which merely tell us about the structure of the story. Mr. Crews demonstrates how much language, the very words we use and how we say them, influences thought. Also, it is clear that who we are affects what we say and how we say it. The drunk—a—log and late night “war stories” take on new meaning when described through Southern words and phrases.
In doing this, I see the men running like dogs chasing a fox, that is to say a woman, under the full moon’s light. I see the men comfortably ensconced in their way of life with the bars, hunts, fights, and dogs. As crazy and care—free as Buck seems, he and his drunken friends still seem balanced and stable in juxtaposition to the college kids. The late night with the dogs and his friends was just what Buck needed to find relief from rejection. His comfort is palpable and infectious. None of it could have been truly conveyed without the excellent use of dialect. Mr. Crews has yet again painted for us a vivid Southern scene that we can enjoy at least for a moment.
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