Friday 20 January 2023


Synopsis/blurb ...

At the heart of the book is George Gattling of Gainesville, Florida, fighting the boredom, the excruciating unimportance, of his existence.

He has a successful custom-seatcover business, a family of sorts – his sister Precious, who lies in bed reading aloud the “Ask Them Yourselves” questions in Family Weekly; her son Fred, who every now and then utters one word like “cork” or “toe” and is definitely either retarded or a genius; and Betty, a psychology major whose actual study is copulation.

And he has his hawk.

The hawk is the mirror for all of George’s held-in passions. It goes with him everywhere – to breakfast, to Betty’s bed, to a funeral home at four in the morning. When the hawk at last springs from his arm, prompted by the thought of freedom, swooping for its prey, life will become exciting, animated, tumultuous.

In a story filled with scenes that are funny and touching and wonderfully bawdy Harry Crews has superbly described the search of a man for release into a world where the senses are quickly awakened and emotions are unrestrained.

Enjoyable, interesting, informative on the art of trying to train a hawk, funny and sad.

The main character is eccentric, obsessional and unwilling to live according to other people's expectations. He cares deeply for his nephew and values the times they spend together. He probably cares more for his hawk though. There's a real battle of wills as he seeks to dominate it. I enjoyed the history lesson Crews serves up in respect of the history of falconry through the years.

Our main character, George suffers a grievous loss in the book, an incident that is by turn funny, horrific and absurd. Ditto the follow up scene when he visits the funeral parlour. 

I've not read any Harry Crews for a fair few years. I'm minded to dig out some of the other treasures in the collection.

4 stars from 5

Read - December, 2022

Published - 1973

Page count - 244 

Source - owned copy

Format - Hardback (Secker & Warburg)


  1. It’s been a long time since I read a Harry Crews book. Thanks for the reminder, Col.

    1. Elgin, you're welcome. Me too! That's why I dug this one out.