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Larry Brown and the Blue-Collar South$
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Jean W. Cash and Keith Perry

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9781934110751

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781934110751.001.0001

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date: 17 December 2018

Home and the Open Road

Home and the Open Road

The Nonfiction of Larry Brown

(p.86) Home and the Open Road
Larry Brown and the Blue-Collar South

Robert G. Barrier

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter offers a reading of Larry Brown’s two nonfiction works: his memoir On Fire: A Personal Account of Life and Death and Choices (1994); and his collection of essays titled Billy Ray’s Farm: Essays from a Place Called Tula (2001). It argues that both volumes, with their exploration of the roles of firefighter, family man, and author, reflect Brown’s lifelong search for a balance between work, play, and rest. The chapter considers all three pursuits as journeys to the farthest reaches of home, just close enough for familiarity and yet far enough away for independence. It also suggests that such pursuits represent themes of “controlled exuberance and testing the open road, yet returning home when it’s all over.” Whereas On Fire focuses on the daily worklife of the ordinary, lower-middle class in the South, Billy Ray’s Farm deals with the more personal, the onerous work as well as carousing play.

Keywords:   nonfiction, Larry Brown, memoir, On Fire, essays, Billy Ray’s Farm, firefighter, work, play, rest

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