This may sound glib, but if I were to recommend any Harry Crews titles to hard boiled and noir crime fiction fans, it would be the books of Charles Willeford. What I mean is that, upon reflection, what they share is an embrace of the marginal, the losers, the hopeless, and a genuine empathy for their plight that never becomes sappy or sentimental. Their characters frequently plot their own elaborate and spectacular disasters, with a misbegotten faith in something they should have let go of long ago. But Crews didn't write crime fiction per se, he wrote darkly comic novels. I read a few many years ago (I've been meaning to get back to him) and they blur a bit in my memory, unfortunately, but the one that stands out is The Gypsy's Curse, about a circus performer who's a deaf-mute dwarf with small, misshapen, useless legs. It's a love story. And it's tragically, wonderfully, savagely funny.
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