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Father and Son Paperback – September 15, 1997

72 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

Larry Brown is the master of the raw and the sparse and of bringing Mississippi to the world in a language that is as stripped down and bare as Faulkner's is dense. Brown is at his best when he writes of the tensions between one screwed-up man and another, in this case a father and son. One has just been let out of prison, and he shouldn't have been. The other is drunk and disabled and intends on staying that way. To make things worse, there is a conflict with the sheriff, who is good and righteous but who tried to put the moves on the parolee's woman while he was in prison. To tell more would be to violate Brown's mastery of dialogue and of that which goes unspoken in this sly story of father, son, and misery. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

It takes formidable talent to mesmerize readers of a novel that focuses on a deeply flawed, unsympathetic protagonist, but Brown succeeds triumphantly in his most wise, humane and haunting work to date. On the first day that Glen Davis is released from the Mississippi state pen (after serving three years for running over a child while he was drunk), he kills two men; that night, he callously tells the mother of his toddler son that marriage is not part of his plans. On the second day, he rapes a teenaged girl. Glen is a despicable person?mean, icily remote, seemingly without conscience. Sheriff Bobby Blanchard is Glen's opposite; a kind and decent man, he epitomizes integrity and responsibility. Bobby is in love with Jewel, the mother of Glen's son, and their relationship is only one of the heartwrenching dramas played out here. Only halfway through the book do we learn that Bobby is Glen's half brother; both are sons of Virgil Davis, whom Glen demonizes and hates and whom Bobby wistfully wishes would acknowledge him. In fact, all of the characters are involved in a web of secret relationships, and much of the resonance of this suspenseful narrative is due to Brown's adroit pacing, as he releases surprising information gradually and with natural understatement. Despite Glen's coldhearted deeds, we come to understand him, too, as he progresses to a desperate act of rage and revenge. As in his previous novels, Brown (Dirty Work; Joe) uses lean, lyrical prose to evoke the cadenced speech and the atmosphere of the rural south in the 1960s, where everybody chainsmokes and drinks whiskey. Though he depicts a basic conflict of good and evil, however, Brown never reduces the issues to stark polarities. Most impressive here are Brown's compassionate view of human nature and his understanding of the subtleties of human behavior and the fabric of society, which, after tragedy reknits itself anew, to reaffirm the essential kinship of a community of souls. Author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 347 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks (September 15, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805053034
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805053036
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #159,940 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Robert Clanton on December 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
I am from the South-- more specifically, from the terrain of which Larry Brown writes. And he has got it dead right. If you want to live and breath rural Mississippi, read this. And all his works. I have met these people. Ate with my feet under their tables. Drank water from their gourd dippers. Set trotlines with them. Seen the lines of hard living in their faces. Larry Brown's characters live and breath on the page. If you like honest writing, treat yourself to this novel!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Schtinky VINE VOICE on October 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
Larry Brown is an amazing storyteller. Father & Son is gritty and real. This is the lives of people living in a small southern town in the late 1960's. Before MADD and the tobacco lawsuits. They are not educated and not rich, but the story definitely
As you read about the lives of Virgil, Bobby, Jewel, Puppy, Mary, and most of all Glen, you feel time take on a different meaning. Their lives are not about obtaining wealth or recognition or even a state of comfort. Their lives are about survival, in the only world known to them and the only world they will accept.
Time passes slower there, and sometimes it seems that all they do is ride around in their old cars for hours drinking beer and smoking. But Mr. Brown brings their lives into clear focus whether you wanted to see it or not. Virgil's regret at how he spent his youth instead of raising his sons better. Bobby's yearning for Jewel and dedication to doing the right thing. Jewel's desire for the love she thought she had in the past, her unhappiness at finding it never existed, and her determination to make a decent life for herself and her child. Puppy's day to day struggle with just making a living, making peace with his father, and handling his own home life. Mary's struggle with her own lost love and her dignity in bearing through years of sacrificing that love. And then there is Glen. His life is a chilling look at the mind of cold blooded killer, but from a different angle than most novels give.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Harnett VINE VOICE on August 19, 2004
Format: Paperback
Brown's third novel, set in 1968, concerns the events of five days following the release of Glen Davis from prison. Having served three years for the drunk-driving death of a small boy, Davis returns to his Mississippi home town with scores to settle.

Brown's Deep South, working class voice drips with heat and smolders with trouble. Davis is a sullen, vicious young thug convinced that all his troubles are anyone's fault but his and determined to exact revenge. Not exactly an original character but Brown's gritty, laconic style imbues him with a foreboding sense of menace that seems to surround the whole town while people go about their business, knowing the danger but unwilling to quite believe it.

Within 50 pages, Glen has killed - casually, with intent but almost without thought. The next morning he begins to harangue Virgil, his father, about the lack of a headstone on his mother's grave.

"Virgil didn't look up. He couldn't reason with him. Not when he got things in his head and kept them that way. It wasn't any use to try. He was worn down and he'd had a long rest but now this rest was over and he didn't know if he could take this all over again."

As Glen creeps and careens around his town, drinking and wreaking brutal havoc as the whim grabs him, secrets begin to crawl up out of the worn linoleum floors and the fly-blown windows - cracks in the veneer of sainthood Glen has constructed around his dead mother, an unspeakable childhood incident that fuels Glen's hatred and weighs heavily on his father, a tangled history with the sheriff and his mother.

Sheriff Bobby Blanchard's stand-up confrontation with Glen goes deeper than Bobby's love for Jewel, Glen's girlfriend and the mother of his child.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By spideranansie on July 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
When I started reading "Father and Son" I wasn't too used to the pace of the novel and was dying for things to pick up and progress. But i guess crucial to Brown's writing is the reconstruction of the surroundings and environment of his characters. Setting plays a big role in this novel and you get an idea of a small town where nothing is really happening except crimes being committed and laws being broken. There is a deep sense of time just passing meaninglessly amid frustration, anger, impatience, and a general sense of boredom and dread. Set against this drab background, however, the characters Brown has created are powerful and moving. We see not just one layer of their characters, but the many other layers and complications beneath the surface, and how alot of their lives have been shaped by events beyond their control, of flukes which seem to have arisen due to rotten luck. Some of their trials mirror our own. From Virgil, we learn that love for a family member never dies no matter what happens. From Jewel, we learn the importance of recognising when it is time to let go and move on, and to have the strength to see it through. From Mary, we learn that sacrifices form part and parcel of true love. From Bobby, we learn decency and understanding. And from Glen, fascinating and unforgettable character that he is, we learn the angst of love turned to hate, the destructive capacity of mankind, and the senselessness of criminal behaviour. The novel highlights the depths humankind can sink to, in the murders committed by Glen and others, but it also uplifts us with a sense of hope when we see the role David is able to play as a link to the disparate members of 3 families. Honest, sincere and moving, I shall look forward to Brown's other works.
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