Swamp Gothic

SCAR LOVER by Harry Crews

Poseidon; 284 pages; $19

Imagine William Faulkner in a fright wig or Carson McCullers and Flannery O'Connor strapped side by side on a roller coaster, and you have Harry Crews writing Southern gothic. In 1990 he produced the uproarious Body, in which he yoked a family of half-crazy Georgia crackers to the queasy glitz of big-time body building. Now there's Scar Lover, a comic love story filled with death and mutilation.

In one of the novel's many unhinged moments, a typically bizarre collection of Crews characters gather in a Florida swamp for the late-night cremation of...