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The Rabbit Factory: A Novel Hardcover – August 26, 2003

44 customer reviews

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Hardcover, August 26, 2003
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Grimly realistic, tragic-absurd and raunchy, Brown's latest novel returns to his deep South fictional territory and to the characters-poor, largely uneducated, hard-drinking, cigarette and dope smoking-that he portrays so well. This time he juggles a large cast with one thing in common: they're long-time losers whose paths intersect in or near Memphis. Arthur is nearly 70, impotent and fearful of losing his sexy younger wife, Helen. She tries to seduce teenaged Eric, a pet shop employee who fled his abusive father's rabbit factory-a metaphor for the uncaring world in which these people exist. Anjalee is a prostitute who smites the heart of Wayne, a navy boxer. Domino has survived a prison term and now works butchering meat for a gangster named Mr. Hamburger, who sells it to a man who owns lions. Trouble is, the body of one of Mr. Hamburger's victims turns up in the meat locker, which complicates Domino's extracurricular job dealing weed over the border in Mississippi. The plot includes several murders, lots of sex, domestic spats and plenty of action in bars. Even the violent scenes veer close to farce. Dogs figure prominently, one of them a pit bull named Jada Pickett. Miss Muffet, who is the housekeeper for one of the spoiled canines, has a plastic leg. Yet even with the advantage of Brown's keen eye for the absurdities of life and for the habits of people who live on the edge, the book fails to deliver the punch of his earlier works. Fay, his most accomplished novel to date, was darker, but one could identify with the protagonist. Here, the characters are all self-absorbed and incessantly whiny, and their obsessive rambling thoughts are recounted in numbing detail. Readers will understand well before the end that these sad lives will never go anywhere but down.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Brown is a much-beloved writer who was put on the literary map primarily by his very popular novel Joe (1991). His latest will not only please his fans but also win him new ones. There is a kind of southern literary tradition for novelists to go "big screen" by following the plights and exploits of a slew of wacky but indelibly colorful individuals all living in one community and by alternating back and forth among their stories as they come to terms with life in their own peculiar fashion. That is exactly the mode Brown chooses here as we observe hooker Anjalee; older man Arthur along with his younger, sexually dissatisfied wife, Helen; "gunslinger" Frankie and his just desserts; ex-prisoner Domino and his sordid attempts to make a go of it outside the big house; and other equally "attractive" men and women working out their own destinies even when love, sex, and money (or the lack of any or all of the three) get in their way. This is not a gentle community these people inhabit; violence is just around the corner, as are the cops. One hysterical scene is followed by another, all of them underlain with the philosophy that you gotta do what you gotta do to be able to do what you wanna do. Can't go wrong with a conviction like that, can you? Read and see. But you definitely can't go wrong with a novel that has dogs as fully developed characters in their own right. Brad Hooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; Signed edition (August 26, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743250044
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743250047
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,867,358 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Clare Quilty on February 21, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Like "Magnolia" or "Nashville," this is a mosaic about a group of loosely connected characters, most of whom don't realize their relationships to one another.
Domino, for example, is an ex-con who makes deliveries for a gangster named Mr. Hamburger; Hamburger employs Frankie, a button man who keeps hooker Anjalee as his on-hold skeezer; elderly Arthur meets both Anjalee and Frankie as he worries about his straying wife, Helen, who longs for pet shop clerk Eric; Eric was once acquainted with a one-armed man named Nub who recently hooked up with Miss Muffet, a woman who looks after a demonic dog for Mr. Hamburger, and so on....
It took me a while to get into the book -- it takes some time to get acclimated to all the different characters and you've got to get used the way Brown jumps from place to place and person to person.
But once that's out of the way, the stories speed by. Brown is a master at getting you hooked into one story, then shifting to another one that gradually becomes just as engrossing. He also creates characters that are deeply flawed but surprisingly sympathetic: case in point -- Domino D'Alamo, a dope-dealing, cop-killing no good who will stop at nothing to accomplish his goal (basically "deliver the weed and get paid.") Despite his Tuco-esque flaws, I kept catching myself rooting for him. And in his last scene, when his ridiculous but terrible fate is revealed, I genuinely felt sad.
The usual Brown trademarks are here -- perfectly crafted scenes that look deceptively easy; vivid depictions of men and women and land and violent activity; Brown's obsessions with and depictions of drinking, smoking, money, sex and food.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Alan Mills VINE VOICE on June 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The title sets the tone: Rabbits are bread as cute pets; but once they reach a "certain age", they become unsaleable. Mr. Studebaker, owner of the pet store, doesn't know what to do with these "older" rabbits. Eric--a homeless employee, looking for a friend after having run away from his abusive father--knows just what to do--kill them and freeze them for meat. How does he know? Because his father enfenced a 7 acre field, and bred rabbits for hunting. The rabbit factory.
In a series of interlocking stories, Larry Brown artfully weaves together the lives of several characters, all inhabiting (all temporarily) Memphis. None have had good luck recently, and only Arthur--a former oil tycoon, now 70, in retirement, facing impotency, and trying to hold on to his 40 year old wife--seems to have ever had any.
A mobster from Chicago has his privates mangled by a post hole digger; his one legged maid has her leg stolen in her battle with the family poodle; a good looking hooker looses two sugar daddy's, and is then arrested for assaulting an abusive nurse working at an old folk's home; a navy man, whose ship kills a whale, and who then suffers brain damage in an unofficial boxing match; and an ex-con, who really, really tries to go straight, but suffers a series of comic mishaps that turn him into first a murderer, and then food for lions (just in case the Rabbit factory image hasn't sunk in yet).
At the end, two of the plot lines remain unresolved. Will Helen stop drinking and running around and return to Arthur, who (probably) still loves her? Will the beautiful hooker stay with the brain damaged boxing naval man? Can anyone ever find happiness?
Or are we all, including authors who labor long over a book only to have it read and then discarded, simply grist for some cosmic rabbit factory we call existence.
More readable than Waiting for Godot, and far more entertaining--but the point seems the same--there is no point.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Graham R. Lewis on September 18, 2003
Format: Hardcover
In The Rabbit Factory, Mississippi writer Larry Brown does something different--this time, he lets humor take center stage. After the darkness of his other books (which were always ripe with gallows humor anyway), Rabbit Factory is a more-than-pleasant surprise. Not that everything is all chipper for his new cast of characters. Hardly. But the absudity of their situations is presented with a bit of a lighter tone this time around. Even a dog gets a few chapters to itself, and they are hilarious. The narrative moves much faster here as well--kind of like an Elmore Leonard tale. If you thought Brown's last couple of novels were a bit too heavy, give this one a shot. You won't be disappointed. The Rabbit Factory should deservedly earn Brown a legion of new fans--and one can sense a great movie just up the road apiece.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Willis H. Edmiston on October 18, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Based on Fay and earlier works, I knew Brown's "The Rabbit Factory" would be entertaining, and it certainly did NOT disappoint! A wonderful collection of quirky characters and situations. Just great white trash writing, not to be missed!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Kaplan on September 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This was my first Larry Brown novel and I am so glad that I happen to pick it up at the airport bookstore. I decided to take a chance on a new writer and since the description intrigued me I chose this book. I couldn't put it down. The novel would make for an exceptional film and I am hoping that it will be considered for screen adaptation one of these days. I have already cast the juicy characters in my mind.

This is not the type of novel I would typically gravitate towards. It just happened upon me. And I am truly glad that it did.
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