I just started reading, “Larry Brown, A Writer’s Life” by Jean Cash. The foreword (by Shannon Ravenel) and the first two paragraphs of the Preface, already have me stopped in my tracks, mesmerized by a writer I’m just coming to know. I picture my ever growing TBR (to be read) stack of backs which is already swaying and threatening to topple over, suddenly growing bigger still with however many books this guy wrote.
Not since Stephen King and Kaye Gibbons have I purchased all the books by a particular writer, but something tells me with Larry Brown, well…, he could become my new favorite. Why? Because of his background, the way he started, how he was self taught, and came to be what many called, “the new rising voice in Southern literature.” Because he focused his writing on that style known as “Rough South,” or, “Grit Lit.” Unfortunately, my getting to “know him” is happening posthumously. He died when he was only fifty three years of age, back in 2004, when my dream of ever finishing my first book still was only ninety pages of very raw material. It makes me sad to discover someone after they are gone, especially when I feel such an immediate connection.
That connection comes from the fact he was self taught. Like him, I’ve not had any formal education when it comes to writing. I don’t hold an MFA. I didn’t major in English Lit at a university. I am a high school graduate who went back to school after being in the work force for over 30 years. But I didn’t focus on writing, even then. Instead, I obtained a Bachelor of Science in Business Management. But, at the back of my mind, and with every book I read, I thought “I too, can do this.” And what else did he prove? He proved to all of us aspiring writers that just because you may not have obtained that undergraduate degree, just because you don’t hold an MFA from a prestigious writing program, and just because you don’t have any publishing credentials, that doesn’t mean you can’t write and that doesn’t mean you can’t win awards when doing so.
If you haven’t read the story of Larry Brown, or any of his books, you just have to, if only to see that there is such a thing as “a natural.”
For quick information, here is the link from Wikipedia where you can see what he wrote and how well received his work was: