A Miracle of Catfish by Larry Brown.
I adore Hemingway, Steinbeck and Fitzgerald. I love the classics like To Kill a Mockingbird. In fact, there was a time that I didn't like any fiction being written in current times. I thought the 80's were pretty weak for writers. I started reading Larry Brown about 6 years ago. I LOVE Larry's work. I enjoy Southern lit and I enjoy grit and that would be Larry. His novel "Fay" is one of my favorite all time reads. I am participating along with some other blog friends in the Southern Reading Challenge 2007 and I can't imagine being much more Southern than Larry Brown.
My husband is a Brown fanatic and has actually been out to Larry's pond. I have a feeling that was the inspiration for our own pond but that is another story in itself.
Writer Larry Brown passed away suddenly in November 2004 at the age of 53. He was not completely finished with his 6th novel A Miracle of Catfish. His long time editor Shannon Ravenel edited the work and published it without an ending. If you are a fan of Larry's you really don't need the ending. It is as much about enjoying his story telling as anything. I would not recommend this book to you if you have not already read other Larry work. I don't think you would get it. In fact, as much as I love his writing there were sections that were difficult for me to get through. Though beautifully written it seemed to go on and on and on in spots. It is apparent that he was writing away intending on going back and editing his work. When I finished it I was saddened by the fact that this was it. No more hard drinking, womanizing, white trash tales from Larry Brown. His stories were so vivid I always felt like I knew the characters. Many of the things he spoke of were things that we too see in this rural Southern area day in and day out. He had a way of making me pay more attention to the local flavor.
Anyone interested in Southern Literature should at least check out Larry's book of short stories "Big Bad Love." The title story is actually Toonces's favorite of all.
The End of The World As We Know It by Robert Goolrick.
I had to ask Toonces if this were an autobiography or fiction. Because if it were fiction the writing wasn't very good in my opinion. If it was someone telling their own story then okay. While the writing itself wasn't great the story held my attention. Being from Virginia myself I understood first hand some of the descriptions he used. Even though much of it was way before my time I've heard enough about those years to be able to relate.
I did not agree with the chapter that says the term "cocktails" has disappeared from the language. Maybe he should come a little bit more into Southern Virginia. We still use that term all the time. And we still serve cocktails at parties. Though I will agree that wine is the bigger thing now.
I don't really know what to say about this book. It was darker than I imagined even going in knowing it was a story of abuse. I think he waited so long to go into details and I was so wrapped in the characters that it really made me much sicker than I'd have believed. I mean I actually felt sick after finishing this book. I know he said he wrote it to stop maybe someone else from sleeping with their child...to make them think first, but how many people that are child sex offenders let a novel stop them? This guys childhood was filled with so much emotional neglect and he was denigrated by his parents and grandmother that by novel end I had to wonder if he wasn't exaggerating a bit. I mean his sister turned out just fine.
His parents were so vile and selfish and horrible that I wanted to just pop their heads together and make them go away forever. I wanted to take this child out of this book and run. I am always amazed at how family members can cover abuse just to save face in the community. And these people lived in a time where ALL they worried about was how they looked to others in the community.
Honestly I enjoyed the book until it got to the graphic description of him and his father. When he gave the age all I could think of was my nephews and I just got sick and totally turned off by anything else that was said or done in the book. I was left wondering why in the world I read that book. This novel is doing very well and I hope that the author has somehow come to love himself and found inner peace. Read this book only if you have the stomach for some very graphic sexual child abuse and self loathing caused by it.
Southern Fried Women by Pamela King Cable.
My friend Sharon gave me this little book of short stories for Christmas. It is a local author in NC. This little book has some delightful little stories in it. It is set in various locations and time periods in the South and deals with situations people face and the existence of God in their lives. Despite sounding a bit full of herself at times during her introductions the writer is spot on when writing about televangelists, doublewides and interstate flea markets. Since I have actually been to Pentecostal tent meetings her stories were very amusing to me. If you enjoy Southern tales and are a woman these just might make you smile.
Next up I am reading Water for Elephants, a novel by Sara Gruen. And I have to pick 3 Southern novels to read for the challenge.
In other entertainment, last night I watched "Catch and Release." I thought it was cute.