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Scott Lax Blog

Larry Brown: A Truly Original Voice

Having finished and submitted the second draft of my novel last week, I again understand Hemingways' quote: "They can't yank a novelist like they can a pitcher. A novelist has to go the full nine, even if it kills him."

Speaking of fiction, and of how hard it is to finish a novel, I'm reading BIG BAD LOVE (re-reading, mostly, as it's a book of short stories) by my late and lamented friend, Larry Brown. Larry was one of the great fiction writers of our time, I think - and a guy who worked very hard to be a writer, and to finish his novels, after being in the marines, then a fireman. His voice was so pure and honest -- not to mention gnarly and shocking, coarse and tender -- that we'll never see or read his like again. There will be other honest voices, of course, but Larry's was something special.

Sometimes I think I learned more from Larry sitting in rocking chairs up at Bread Loaf, sipping Larry's whisky and listening to Johnny Cash, and Larry's hard-won writing wisdom, than I did in any classroom. If you have a chance, pick up some of Larry's work. He was a master, and a real person.

I do have one chapter in my novel, THE YEAR THAT TREMBLED, that's a sort of tribute to Larry and his characters. It's in the voice of a Vietnam veteran who is wheelchair-bound. I thought of Larry when I wrote it. I'm not sure why. He just kind of had that effect on you.  Read More