On Fire by Larry Brown
A Personal Account of Life and Death and Choices

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Synopsis

On January 6, 1990, after seventeen years on the job, award-winning novelist Larry Brown quit the Oxford, Mississippi, Fire Department. With three published books to his credit and a fourth nearly finished, he made the risky decision to try life as a full-time writer. On Fire, his first work of nonfiction, looks back on his life as a full-time firefighter. Unflinching accounts of daily trauma--from the blistering heat of burning trailer homes to the crunch of broken glass at crash scenes--catapult readers into the hard reality that has driven Larry Brown.

As firefighter and fireman-turned-author, as husband and hunter, and as father and son, Brown offers insights into the choices men face pursuing their life’s work. And, in the forthright style we expect from Larry Brown, his diary builds incrementally and forcefully to the explanation of how one man who regularly confronted death began to burn with the desire to write about life.

On Fire is a book in which an extraordinarily gifted writer looks back and reflects on the violence of his life as a fireman. Thoreau said it one way: “However mean your life is, meet it and live it.” Larry Brown says it another:

You have to meet the thing, is what it is . . . and for the firefighter it is fire. It has to be faced and defeated so that you prove to yourself that you meet the measure of the job. You cannot turn your back on it, as much as you would like to be in cooler air.

“Larry Brown has an ear for the way people talk, an eye for their habits and manners, a heart for the frailties and foibles, and a love for their struggles and triumphs. His fireman’s diary is a wonderful book.” —John Grisham, author of The Firm and The Client

"Larry Brown is never romantic about danger and . . . in this book he goes through his life with the same meticulous attention with which Thoreau circled the woods around Walden Pond." —The New York Times Book Review.

 

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 January 1, 1994 by Algonquin Books. 193 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for On Fire

Kirkus Reviews

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Brown brings to his first work of nonfiction the same no- nonsense style that makes his novels and short stories (Big Bad Love, 1990, etc.) so powerful and intense.

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The New York Times

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Mr. Hermes, a senior critic at Rolling Stone and frequent contributor to The New York Times, has isolated a crucial, if sometimes awkward, period of transition in American music, hitherto dismissed as “a cultural dead zone,” and his painstakingly nuanced preface argues only that the figures he di...

Dec 05 2011 | Read Full Review of On Fire: A Personal Account o...

The New York Times

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What for American readers will be a more riveting — because unfamiliar — tale comes whenever Foreman turns from the patriotic gore to her true subject of the British and the war.

Jun 30 2011 | Read Full Review of On Fire: A Personal Account o...

Publishers Weekly

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While some adaptations from theater go limp as prose, Handler has expanded his off-Broadway play about surviving leukemia into a captivating memoir.

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Publishers Weekly

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This memorable collection of short essays, some of them merely fragments, is the first venture into nonfiction by fireman turned novelist Brown ( Dirty Work ).

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BC Books

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If you're into the kind of long-form, experimental free jazz that aims at an aesthetic in which the music transcends conventions that often limit an artist's musical vision, you'll want to seek out composer/pianist Heiner Stadler's two-disc release, Brains on Fire.

Jan 16 2012 | Read Full Review of On Fire: A Personal Account o...

The Wall Street Journal

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If the oddsmaker Jimmy the Greek had been alive 150 years ago, when the American Civil War broke out, he would have probably given the South a better-than-even chance of winning, for it was widely assumed that Great Britain would support the Confederacy to maintain its access to Southern cotton.

Jun 25 2011 | Read Full Review of On Fire: A Personal Account o...

The Telegraph

Cool-eyed and cornrowed, Alicia Keys was just 20 years old when she released her startling debut album: Songs in A Minor.

Nov 23 2012 | Read Full Review of On Fire: A Personal Account o...

The Christian Manifesto

Read together or separately, but you’ll want to make sure you come together at the end and share this common ground with your kids!

Jan 09 2013 | Read Full Review of On Fire: A Personal Account o...

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Reader Rating for On Fire
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