Larry Brown and the Blue-Collar South

Larry Brown and the Blue-Collar South

Jean W. Cash and Keith Perry

Print publication date: 2014

ISBN: 9781934110751

Publisher: University Press of Mississippi

Abstract

Larry Brown (1951–2004) is noted for his subjects—rural life, poverty, war, and the working class—and his spare, gritty style. His oeuvre spans several genres and includes acclaimed novels (Dirty Work, Joe, Father and Son, The Rabbit Factory, and A Miracle of Catfish), short story collections (Facing the Music, Big Bad Love), memoir (On Fire), and essay collections (Billy Ray’s Farm). At the time of his death, Brown was considered to be one of the finest exemplars of minimalist, raw writing of the contemporary South. This book considers the writer’s full body of work, placing it in the contexts of southern literature, Mississippi writing, and literary work about the working class. Collectively, the chapters explore such subjects as Brown’s treatment of class politics, race and racism, the aftereffects of the Vietnam War on American culture, the evolution of the South from a plantation-based economy to a postindustrial one, and male–female relations. The book discusses the role of Brown’s mentors—Ellen Douglas and Barry Hannah—in shaping his work, as well as Brown’s connection to such writers as Harry Crews and Dorothy Allison. It is one of the first critical studies of a writer whose depth and influence mark him as one of the most well-regarded Mississippi authors.