One could guess without knowing for sure that SCAR LOVER was later in Harry Crews writing career How? By the gushing sentiment present in the last 30 pages or so and by the happy ending.
That is not to say this is not a very strange book filled with the usual Crews eccentrics and grotesque situations. Pete Butcher is shunned by what’s left of his family after he accidentally hits his brother in the head with a hammer as a child making him an idiot and later indirectly causing his parents to die in a car crash when they had to go out to get something.
While working unloading boxcars, he meets George a Rasta from Jamaica who is covered with scars. Around the same time, he also makes friends with a girl who lives across the street and her weird family and an eccentric 85 year old man who lives in the same boardinghouse and who is obsessed with showing how fit he is and going to the zoo to look at the Yaks.
I enjoyed the first 2/3’s of this book but after that it doesn’t really go anywhere. The enjoyable parts are funny in the ridiculous Crews way. In fact, despite the very redneck nature of his settings and characters, Crews approaches narrative like a British writer effortlessly inserting nonsensical wildly funny encounters, dialogue etc.
But by the end sentimentality has swamped the story especially the love story between Pete and the neighbor girl. I hope this isn’t true of all of his later books as I plan on working my way through his whole bibliography.