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.
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.read more
I love Larry Brown's writing. So simple, yet so affecting and evocative. This collection of autobiographical tales was written as a reflection on the time in his life from the '70s to the early 90s as an Oxford Fire Department member in Mississippi. That alone would be good enough - his stories tell of the unique esprit de corps in the fire station and of the many harrowing emergencies they would attend. But this book is more than just this. Brown writes of what that life was like as a colleague among the truest of friends, as a professional - sure of his abilities and confident in his training and equipment, as a man coping with moments of life, death and devastation on a routine basis, and as a husband and father living a blue collar existence in a simple home doing simple things.It is these latter recollections which penetrated the most - you feel the soul of the man as he tells of half-hearted hunting expeditions with his sons, planting trees with his buddies in a snowy January landscape, or the heartbreaking episode of the disappearing kittens and the stuggle to settle with himself the ethics of raising rabbits for profit.Intermittently he makes reference to his private passion - writing - and his efforts to fit that parallel vocation in with his home and work lives. These tiny insights are fascinating, and truly give an indication of what kind of a man he was.Highly recommended.read more
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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 ). After 17 years as a firefighter in Oxford, Miss., home of the state university and William Faulkner, Brown devoted himself to full-time writing, which had been an avocation for 10 years. Most of his observations here are about fighting fires, the camaraderie among those who perform this service, the tragedies and the miracles they encounter. But there are other pieces, some humorous, others poignant, on Brown's family, on hunting and fishing, on his pets and his attempts to raise rabbits for the market. 25,000 first printing; $25,000 ad/ promo; author tour. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved