Big Bad Love
By James Calemine
Mississippi writer Larry Brown wrote ten published books. Big Bad Love, his second collection of short stories, ranks as a formidable collection of fiction. Other essential Brown books include Facing The Music, Dirty Work, Joe, On Fire, Father and Son, Fay, Billy Ray's Farm and The Rabbit Factory.
Big Bad Love contains ten short stories mostly based on love gone wrong. "Falling Out Of Love" tells the story of how a relationship ends over a doomed car ride. "The Apprentice" reveals a story of two lovers--both writers- and how life imitates art when the consequences of publication arise.
These stories take place in bars, run down homes, trucks on dirt roads and lost highways. "Wild Thing" mentions contemporary music groups against the nonfiction locations and the amorous ruin of its characters. The story, "Big Bad Love" begins with the death of a venerable old hound that details the deterioration of old flames and eroded bonds that can never be recaptured.
"Gold Nuggets" takes place in a Mississippi bar and reveals why the North Mississippi Allstars asked Brown to write the liner notes to their first album, Shake Hands With Shorty. Bob Dylan informed Jim Dickinson that he (Dylan) read every word Brown ever published.
"Waiting For The Ladies" weaves a tale of a lonely drinker surviving a day to day grind while waiting to be delivered from his sorrow by a perfect lover. "Sleep" hinges on the delicate balance of a married couple living with one another's idiosyncrasies. Brown evokes vivid images in every sentence.
"Discipline" seems to represent a writer practicing his dialogue because every line in the story is based on a deposition that makes one realize why Hollywood sought to make Brown's novels into film towards the end of his life. "92 Days" represents why a poet like Bob Dylan loved Brown's work. "92 Days" reveals the real loneliness, hardship and dedication required to endure and survive as a writer.
Larry Brown died at the age of 53 in 2004. Big Bad Love survives as an essential collection in southern literature.