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1951 - 2004
R.I.P. Larry

I was at my desk at Paramount Pictures in Hollywood when a package came from my brother in Georgia.  A collection of stories -- BIG BAD LOVE by Larry Brown and a note...insisting on it.  

Later that year my brother and I met up in Oxford, Mississippi where we spent an afternoon with Larry Brown, Barry Hannah and Brad Watson -- literary giants stalking our landscape, my brother called them.  

We asked if they'd meet us in a local recording studio there -- Sweet Tea -- and let us eavesdrop on a conversation between old friends.  They obliged and it was the kind of afternoon you try to burn into your memory as it's happening because you know it'll never happen again.  And then it's gone and you're in a car heading east, Faulkner's estate diminishing in the rear view mirror and it seems historical somehow and terribly important.  

Since then, Arliss Howard and Debra Winger have adapted the stories of BIG BAD LOVE into a feature film -- Best Picture 2002, whether the Academy knows it or not.  It's the real thing, and so is Larry Brown.



"Larry Brown writes like a force of nature," said Pat Conroy. Larry Brown is "direct, powerful, and singularly honest," said Willie Morris. "Larry Brown discovers real stuff, like great writers do. He's been out there, and reports it beautifully," said Barry Hannah. "His version of the minimalist style is underwritten by a great deal of real-world experience: he makes us feel much more than we are told...[and] that to be either human or animal is to engage in a game with death and danger, perversely, tragically, heroically, absurdly," said Madison Smartt Bell. "Whatever he writes, I will read," said Harry Crews.

When publishers are introducing work that's dark, literary, and worth reading, Larry Brown's name is often invoked. (Charles Frasier's COLD MOUNTAIN and Tom Franklin's POACHERS come to mind.) But for all the complimentary comparisons, Larry Brown remains the writer who writes like and excels at being Larry Brown. 

His story is so much a part of Algonquin's history that sometimes we assume everyone knows it. For those who don't: In 1987, his editor, Shannon Ravenel, was reading Frederick Barthelme's Mississippi Quarterly looking for stories to include in NEW STORIES FROM THE SOUTH. It was there that she came across "Facing the Music," only the second story Brown had ever published, and Ravenel thought, one of the best she had ever read. The contributor's note included the information that Brown was working as a firefighter in Oxford, Mississippi, and had been teaching himself to write fiction. Ravenel contacted Brown to ask if he had other stories. He answered, in one of his now famous hand-typed letters, that he had about a hundred. Algonquin published the first of two collections in 1988.  

Since then, he's written three highly acclaimed novels (DIRTY WORK, JOE, and FATHER AND SON) and a memoir (ON FIRE). He's won the Southern Book Critics Circle Award twice; been published in England, France, and Germany; and taught writing at several universities (most recently as a guest of Rick Bass at the University of Montana). When he's at home, where he mostly prefers to be, he spends his days fishing and working on his house and at his pond, and he spends long hours in his writing room revising page after page. For the past three years he's been working on Fay, a character he's known since he wrote JOE. 
FAY is one hundred percent Larry Brown. With her good looks and budding libido, Fay walks out of the woods north of Oxford and hitchhikes down Highway 55 toward Biloxi. For all the trouble she causes and all the trouble she sees, one thing is clear --- Larry Brown knows Fay and likes her a lot.

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