(Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill)
Larry Brown's Facing The Music contains ten short stories. Published in 1988, Facing The Music counts as the first book the late Mississippi writer published.
These stories serve as a prelude to Brown's later work. At the time this book was published, Brown worked as a firefighter in Oxford, Mississippi. Brown's other books include: Big Bad Love, Dirty Work, Joe, On Fire, Father and Son, Billy Ray's Farm, Fay, The Rabbit Factory and A Miracle of Catfish.
Brown's characters endure alcoholism, incurable diseases, unforgettable loves, permanent trouble, violence, displacement and other stark glimpses into the human condition. It's no wonder Bob Dylan told Jim Dickinson that he (Dylan) "read every word Brown ever wrote".
The first story--"Facing The Music"--deals with a relationship situation most all of us have experienced. "Kubuku Rides" tells another story of a deteriorating relationship attributed to heartache and alcohol. This story contained the line Dylan used later in his song "Sugar Baby" where he sings the Brown line: 'Lots of places to hide things (if) you want to hide them bad enough."
A story called "The Rich" revolves around Mr. Pellisher who works at a travel agency. His exposure to wealthy people allow him a keen insight to their ways ands manners. "Old Frank And Jesus" is about a war veteran who comes home to find trouble paying his bills and taking care of his family on a farm. On page 50 Brown writes of this story's main character:
"Mr. P. turns over on the couch and sees the picture of Jesus on the wall. It's been hanging up there for years. Old Jesus, he thinks. Mr. P. used to know Jesus. He used to talk to Jesus all the time. There was a time when he could have a little talk with Jesus and everything'd be all right. Four or five years he could. Things were better then, though. You could raise cotton and hire people to pick it. Not no more, though..."
A long poem, "Boy And Dog" preserves an eternal bond between children and pets. "Julie: A Memory" spins a sad tale about irrevocable circumstances. "Samaritans" proves the old saying "no good deed goes unpunished" stands true at times. In "Night Life" Brown outlines a world based on a guy looking for companionship.
"Leaving Town" alternates between a man and a woman's perspective in the same relationship. The story evokes realities and facts surrounding folks who enter a relationship when their lives are almost half over, and an inevitable goodbye. The final story in the book, "End of Romance", provides a fine perspective of a guy who always treated his woman right and she enjoyed being cruel to him. In the end, this guy has the last laugh.
Facing The Music emits 167 pages of pure soul...