Writer. Writing instructor at Georgia Writers Association and the Midwest Writers Workshop. Sherwood Anderson fellow; Goldfarb fellow, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, 2005.
Sherwood Anderson Foundation Prize, 2001; River City Award in Fiction, Hohenberg Foundation, 2001.
Pig Boy's Wicked Bird (memoir), Chicago Review Press (Chicago, IL), 2004.
The All-American Industrial Motel (memoir), Chicago Review Press (Chicago, IL), 2007.
The Flawless Skin of Ugly People (novel), Virgin Books (New York, NY), 2007.
Hairdos of the Mildly Depressed (novel), Virgin Books (New York, NY), 2008.
Contributor to periodicals and journals, including Smithsonian, Indiana Review, Nebraska Review, Hawaii Review, Evansville Literary Review, Blood and Fire Review, Glimmer Train, and SUN.
Doug Crandell is an American writer. He has served as a writing instructor at the Georgia Writers Association and the Midwest Writers Workshop. In addition to being a Sherwood Anderson fellow, Crandell served as a Goldfarb fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in 2005. Crandell won the 2001 Sherwood Anderson Foundation Prize and also the River City Award in Fiction from the Hohenberg Foundation that same year.
Crandell published his first book, Pig Boy's Wicked Bird, in 2004. The memoir tells of his life growing up on a hog farm in rural Indiana in the mid-1970s. Crandell explains how he got his nickname, Pig Boy, and how the difficulty in covering medical expenses caused problems in his family. His mother went into a deep depression after having a hysterectomy and began referring to herself in the third person, and the author lost several fingers in a farm machinery accident. He also provides social commentary on the time, including how his poor, rural white family came to understand the television series Roots, the presidential campaign of Georgia peanut farmer Jimmy Carter, and the loss of property.
Will Gardner, writing in the Portland Mercury, commented that the author "maintains his 1970s pre-tween perspective by using analogies that are simple and fitting." Gardner added that his "moments of linguistic flair that a seven-year-old might come up with … are the best parts of the" memoir. Booklist contributor David Pitt found this "very personal memoir" to be "alternatively funny and tender." Pitt observed that "Crandell writes with a novelist's flair." A contributor to Publishers Weekly stated: "Richly anecdotal, the work leaves no detail unexamined." The same contributor noted that "this version of growing up in America delivers several compelling, stellar moments."
Gardner published a second memoir, The All-American Industrial Motel, in 2007. That same year he also published his first novel, The Flawless Skin of Ugly People. The novel discusses the differences between inner and outer beauty and how physical ugliness can alienate some from living normally in society.
In the novel, Hobbie was ridiculed as a teen for having a severe case of acne. He was also sexually assaulted by the deacon of his local church. As an adult Hobbie continues to isolate himself from people as his acne problem is as severe as it has always been. Additionally, he suffered deep scars and wounds after a bear attack and a less-than-stellar job of suturing his face. Hobbie's partner, Kari, also suffers from poor self-esteem over her severe obesity. She also was a victim of the local deacon, who raped and impregnated her when she was younger. The pair find solace in each other and seek lifestyles where they can live inconspicuously. They eventually deal with their physical concerns but struggle over the emotional baggage that has come with living under such pressure and fear.
A contributor to Errant Dreams Reviews remarked that certain sections of the book "make it quite difficult to read." The same contributor, however, noted that "there are no falsely beautiful people in here, either inside or out—just real people, going through real things and trying to find real compromises and answers." Garan Holcombe, writing in the California Literary Review, observed that the novel "is strongest in its opening chapters," adding that "Crandell has an appealing style, quiet and meditative, and is able to generate an extraordinary empathy for his characters." Holcombe found that "when the novel becomes a hybrid, part family saga and part road trip, it loses its way a little, slipping into easy melodrama which almost overwhelms the work, unsettling the earlier understated tone." Holcombe concluded, however, that the story "is convincing, moving, and tender, and while the conclusion to the novel is predictable and a little too neat, it is satisfying." A contributor to Kirkus Reviews described the novel as a "gently comic depiction of love's power to heal internal and external wounds."
A contributor to Publishers Weekly remarked that this "endearing debut novel" makes use of "some unconvincing plot twists." However, the critic noted that the characters are "simultaneously moving and unique," aided by the fact that the author "has an exquisite eye for small details." Christine Perkins, reviewing the novel in Library Journal, said that the author uses "a gentle touch with his characters, who are very sympathetic despite their inner flaws and outward appearance." Jack Smith, writing in Ploughshares, commented that "the social and psychological dimensions of the work" are "one of the strengths of this novel." Smith concluded that "Crandell makes it all believable, all real. He evokes compassion for his characters, but never pity. We root for them, and in a fine ending that rings in a strong measure of joy, we feel better for having read this novel."
In 2008 Gardner published a second novel called Hairdos of the Mildly Depressed.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Crandell, Doug, Pig Boy's Wicked Bird, Chicago Review Press (Chicago, IL), 2004.
Crandell, Doug, The All-American Industrial Motel, Chicago Review Press (Chicago, IL), 2007.
Booklist, September 15, 2004, David Pitt, review of Pig Boy's Wicked Bird, p. 193.
California Literary Review, December 17, 2007, Garan Holcombe, review of The Flawless Skin of Ugly People.
Errant Dreams Reviews, February 14, 2008, review of The Flawless Skin of Ugly People.
Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2007, review of The Flawless Skin of Ugly People.
Library Journal, September 1, 2007, Christine Perkins, review of The Flawless Skin of Ugly People, p. 126.
News & Observer (Raleigh, NC), September 18, 2007, review of The Flawless Skin of Ugly People.
Ploughshares, December 22, 2007, Jack Smith, review of The Flawless Skin of Ugly People, p. 205.
Portland Mercury, January 19, 2005, Will Gardner, review of Pig Boy's Wicked Bird.
Post Road, issue 11, spring/summer, 2006, Cathy Day, review of Pig Boy's Wicked Bird.
Publishers Weekly, August 9, 2004, review of Pig Boy's Wicked Bird, p. 243; June 18, 2007, review of The Flawless Skin of Ugly People, p. 33.
Doug Crandell Home Page,http://www.dougcrandell.com (June 6, 2008).
Webdelsol.com,http://www.webdelsol.com/ (June 6, 2008), author profile.