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Dirty Work is the story of two men, strangers-one white, the other black. Both men were born and raised in Mississippi. Both fought in Vietnam. Both were gravely wounded. Walter James stepped into cross fire and lost most of his face. Braiden Chaney was hit by machine gun bullets and lost all four limbs. Now both men lie in adjacent beds in a veterans' hospital. Over the course of a day and a night, Walter James and Braiden Chaney talk. Their talk, from one bed to another, is of memories: how Walter's mother once made him take on the school bully; how Walter's father once beat a mule to death; how Braiden killed his first Viet Cong. They talk, too, of the movies that haunt them both: The Young Lions, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, johnny got his gun. And of their fates: Whose loss is greater? What is the value of their time, their money, of life itself? Who can they love? Walter tells of the woman he has found. Braiden introduces Diva, the nurse, the black angel. Jesus visits. Much ground is covered; a bridge is built over an abyss; the distance between the beds is crossed.
This classic story of good and evil takes place in the rural American South of 1968. After being released from prison, Glen Davis returns to his hometown only to commit double homicide within forty-eight hours of his return. Sheriff Bobby Blanchard, as upright as Glen is despicable, walks in the path of Glen's destruction and tries to rebuild the fragile ties of the families and community they share. Dark secrets that have been simmering for two generations explode to the surface, allowing us a chilling glimpse at how evil can fester in a man's heart and eat up his soul.
Fay Jones had no education, hardly any shell you can't call what her father's been tryin with her since she grew up "love." So, at the ripe age of seventeen, Fay Jones leaves home. She lights out alone, wearing her only dress and her rotting sneakers, carrying a purse with a half pack of cigarettes and two dollar bills. Even in 1985 Mississippi, two dollars won't go far on the road. She's headed for the bright lights and big times and even she knows she needs help getting there. But help's not hard to come by when you look like Fay. There's a highway patrolman who gives her a lift, with a detour to his own place. There are truck drivers who pull over to pick her up, no questions asked. There's a crop duster pilot with money for a night or two on the town. And finally there's a strip joint bouncer who deals on the side. At the end of this suspenseful, compulsively readable novel, there are five dead bodies stacked up in Fay's wake. Fay herself is sighted for the last time in New Orleans. She'll make it, whatever making it means, because Fay's got what it takes: beauty, a certain kind of innocent appeal, and the instinct for survival.
Joe Ransom, nearing fifty, lives hard and likes danger. A drinker, a gambler, a fighter, he's using up what little luck he has left. He drives his pickup too fast, draws his gun too quick. By day he's foreman of a crew of blacks who work in the north Mississippi woods poisoning trees for a lumber company. By night, he visits the whorehouses and gambling dens hidden in the woods back up off the road. Gary Jones estimates his own age to be about fifteen. Born luckless, he lives off discards and garbage. His father, an itinerant farmworker, is as evil as men come. His mother is insane from ancient grief. Their children have known only an endless road, daily hunger, and their parents' bestiality. It's up to the boy to provide, so he's looking for work that pays-and a truck to get to it. When their paths cross, Joe Ransom offers Gary Jones a chance just as his own chances have dwindled to almost nothing.
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.
Larry Brown's idiosyncratic and powerful Southern novels have earned him widespread critical acclaim. Now, in an ambitious narrative structure reminiscent of Robert Altman's classic film Nashville, this "true original" (Chicago Tribune) weaves together the stories of a sprawling cast of eccentric and lovable characters, each embarked on a quest for meaning, fulfillment, and love -- with poignant and uproarious results. Set in Memphis and north Mississippi, The Rabbit Factory follows the colliding lives of, among others, Arthur, an older, socially ill-at-ease man of considerable wealth married to the much younger Helen, whose desperate need for satisfaction sweeps her into the arms of other men; Eric, who has run away from home thinking his father doesn't want him and becomes Arthur's unlikely surrogate son; Domino, an ex-con now involved in the drug trade, who runs afoul of a twisted cop; and Anjalee, a big-hearted prostitute with her own set of troubles, who crashes into the lives of the others like a one-woman hurricane. Teeming with pitch-perfect creations that include quirky gangsters, colorful locals, seemingly straitlaced professors, and fast-and-loose police officers, Brown tells a spellbinding and often hilarious story about the botched choices and missed chances that separate people -- and the tenuous threads of love and coincidence that connect them. With all the subtlety and surprise of life itself, the story turns on a dime from comical to violent to moving. Masterful, profound, and full of spirit, The Rabbit Factory is literary entertainment of the highest order.
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