Billy Ray's Farm by Larry Brown

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In his first work of nonfiction since the acclaimed On Fire, Brown aims for nothing short of ruthlessly capturing the truth of the world in which he has always lived. In the prologue to the book, he tells what it's like to be constantly compared with William Faulkner, a writer with whom he shares inspiration from the Mississippi land. The essays that follow show that influence as undeniable. Here is the pond Larry reclaims and restocks on his place in Tula. Here is the Oxford bar crowd on a wild goose chase to a fabled fishing event. And here is the literary sensation trying to outsmart a wily coyote intent on killing the farm's baby goats. Woven in are intimate reflections on the Southern musicians and writers whose work has inspired Brown's and the thrill of his first literary recognition.

But the centerpiece of this book is the title essay which embodies every element of Larry Brown's most emotional attachments-to the family, the land, the animals. This is a book for every Larry Brown fan. It is also an invaluable book for every reader interested in how a great writer responds, both personally and artistically, to the patch of land he lives on.


About Larry Brown

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Larry Brown was born in Lafayette County, Mississippi, where he lived all his life. At the age of thirty, a captain in the Oxford Fire Department, he decided to become a writer and worked toward that goal for seven years before publishing his first book, Facing the Music, a collection of stories, in 1988. With the publication of his first novel, Dirty Work, he quit the fire station in order to write fulltime. Between then and his untimely death in 2004, he published seven more books. His three grown children and his widow, Mary Annie Brown, live near Oxford.
Published April 1, 2001 by Algonquin Books. 216 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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“Thicker Than Blood,” short but effective, returns to Brown’s frequent subject, hunting, to tell how the older men in his small-town community initiated him into the world of hunting and its “reserves of good memories,” filling in for the father who died when he was 16 (and who didn’t hunt anyway).

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Publishers Weekly

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As Brown details his own efforts to impose harmony on his farm by building a house ("Shack"), protecting his stock from predators ("Goatsongs"), clearing brush and stocking fish ("By the Pond"), he balances pastoral odes with a clear-eyed accounting of the costs of country living.

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Book Reporter

You will not drive past farmland again after reading "Billy Ray's Farm" without thinking of that story.

Jan 21 2011 | Read Full Review of Billy Ray's Farm

Austin Chronicle

These are quite literally epistles from Tula -- the tiny Mississippi hamlet of the subtitle -- where novelist Brown (Fay and Joe) lives and writes.

Aug 10 2001 | Read Full Review of Billy Ray's Farm

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