Father and Son

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Before he turned to writing full-time, Larry Brown earned his living working as a fireman in Oxford, Mississippi. When, after the publication of his second book, DIRTY WORK (1989), he quit his job fighting fires to devote more time to writing, Brown did not turn his back or walk away from danger: or the things that burn. Instead, Larry Brown, in his previous three novels, two books of stories, as well as ON FIRE (1994), a nonfiction book about firefighting and writing, has time and time again ignited the page. In his third novel, FATHER AND SON, Brown once again sets fire to the story he sets out to tell.

Like his fellow Oxford, Mississippian William Faulkner, Larry Brown has made it a habit to create literature out of dangerous characters living out dangerous lives. Brown’s latest bad boy creation is a former convict named Glen Davis, the town’s bad seed, the kind of guy who goes looking for trouble. FATHER AND SON opens on the day of Glen Davis’ release from prison and tracks his five-day passage back to the bad habits that got him into trouble in the first place. Davis is a bad drunk, bad tempered, a bad son, bad man to women and a bad father to his own son. He is, in short, the classic anti-hero, a character who would be easy to dislike, but Brown transforms Davis not only into someone who attracts readers’ attentions, but also into someone whose struggles are common to everyone.

Brown does not ask his readers to root for Glen...

(The entire section is 408 words.)