The old adage that you can't teach writing bears scrutiny in the case of Lafayette County writer Larry Brown. The story of the self-taught "Bard of the Bottoms" and his hard-fought apprenticeship, filled with rejection and fortitude, is given enthusiastic treatment in the new biography by Jean Cash, who turns up here on Monday (9/17) to sign and speak about the writer's life.
We were lucky to know Larry, who died suddenly in 2004 at the age of 53. So many in Oxford and North Mississippi came to know the man who gave eloquent voice to the working-class rural poor of the north Mississippi hills, finding dignity where most writers had assumed parody. For anyone searching for the true and compelling voice of contemporary Mississippi, we always recommend Larry's novels and stories, and they almost always return for more. Those friends and fans will relish Larry Brown: A Writer's Life.
Cash delves into Brown's hard-scrabble youth and exposes some of his private demons, while exploring the author's family and literary life and his valued friendships with many fellow writers, artists and musicians. You get a true sense of the man and why he enjoyed such a close camraderie with fellow artists as well as the good (and bad) country people he wrote about.
Cash lends some of her own valuable perspective on the author's stories and novels, but her wisest choice may be letting Brown's own voice dominate the narrative. He left behind such a trove of letters, journal entries, essays and interviews that there's hardly a paragraph in the book that doesn't bear his mark. It may be the closest thing we ever see to a memoir by Larry Brown, while also maintaing the objectivity of a biography.
We hope you'll come down and join the discussion about this beloved author, an uncommon talent who represented the voice and character of his home like no other. Of course, you'll want a signed copy of the new biography, which can be acquired in person or by visiting our website.