Fay

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Reviews of Fay (1 review)

5 - Excellent Review

Reviewer:

This is Larry Brown's magnum opus. You don't HAVE to read "Joe" before reading "Fay," but I would recommend it, just to get the full impact of what Fay is coming from. In Joe, we meet Fay and her family, abjectly poor, traveling on foot, led by their psychopathic, alcoholic father Wade, squatting in a falling-down shack deep in the Mississippi woods, subsisting on whatever they can forage or steal. Fay disappears midway through "Joe," but the book that bears her name begins as she is walking down the road that first night on her own. She has lived hand-to-mouth all her life, and while she is definitely the smartest member of her family, she is woefully ignorant of the ways of the world. When she's picked up by a carload of young guys who're out riding around drinking beer (a favorite pastime in Larry Brown's books), they take her to a party, give her booze and weed, and yet she's never drank or done drugs, and doesn't seem to realize what their intentions are. Eventually, she gets picked up hitchhiking by Sam, a married state trooper. Sam is unhappily married to the alcoholic Amy, carrying on an affair with a crazy woman, but is ultimately kind, letting Fay move in with them, treating her as a daughter, teaching her to swim, taking her to restaurants, Amy taking her shopping for new clothes, all firsts for Fay. Amy is killed while driving drunk, and Sam and Fay inevitably fall in love, or something like it, and Fay has a confrontation with Sam's nutty mistress and ends up fleeing to Biloxi, where she learns many more harsh lessons about the ways of the world. The most striking thing about Fay is that, despite her horrible environment, she is a good person: sweet-tempered, agreeable, even loving, but so poorly equipped to deal with the larger world. At the end of the book, as with her brother Gary in "Joe," we're supposed to think she's on her way after the final disaster, but you find yourself still very worried about how she'll really make out.