Copies of Crews' novel are scarce


Published: Friday, January 27, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 26, 2006 at 10:57 p.m.
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Author and former University of Florida creative writing professor Harry Crews, shown here in 1998, wrote the book "The Hawk Is Dying," which was made into a movie that premiered this week at the Sundance Film Festival.

Sun file photo
Harry Crews agrees with the general reaction to the film version of "The Hawk Is Dying": Good performances, too slow.
The Gainesville author, well-known in literary circles for the Deep South-flavored, psychologically complex novels he's written since the late 1960s, was sent a tape of the film by the producers and he viewed it this week.
"I agree with the people who think it's slow. I wish to God they would have let me write the screenplay," said Crews. "But the worst person to ask about a film that's made from a book is the guy who wrote the book. He's always going to have bitches. . . . But I'm not bitching. . . . I'm glad they made it."
Crews taught creative writing at the University of Florida until he retired in 1997, and he has centered much of his writing on North Florida and South Georgia, where he was raised. His books have become popular with filmmakers in recent years; "Hawk" is the first one to make it to the screen, but productions of "The Knock-Out Artist" and "The Gypsy's Curse" have been on again, off again in the past year.
Crews said he was impressed by the quality of the acting in "Hawk."
"I like the acting in it. . . . Paul - I call him Paul Spaghetti because I can't pronounce his last name - he's talented. . . . I think he's one hell of an actor. I don't think that picture necessarily shows all his strengths. I thought the girl did a really good job," Crews said.
During the filming in 2004, Crews stayed away from the set, though he did have limited contact with the director, Julian Goldberger. Now he says he would have liked to have a shot at the screenplay, or even the training of the hawks.
"The reason I wrote the book is I had birds, trained birds, flew birds - red-tailed hawks - and then I turned them loose deep in the Okefenokee Swamp," he said. "I (told the director), since you didn't hire me, all I can do is get in your way."
The 70-year-old writer has written some screenplays and even has done some acting, appearing in Sean Penn's 1991 movie "The Indian Runner." But he is not enthralled with the movie business.
"I'm just one guy, and I'm not a film guy. I write books. I've written screenplays, but I don't like to write them. Writing a screenplay is like writing directions on how to put together a lawn mower. It doesn't even feel like writing. The form of it puts me off," he said.
As far as his books that might make it to film in the future, Crews said he's happy to see filmmakers bring his work to the screen, but he doesn't really pay much attention to it.
"There are other books of mine that are in the works, and maybe they'll do a job that will please me more. But because it pleases me more, doesn't mean it will necessarily be a better film," he said. "I'm not a film critic, and don't pretend to be one."

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