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Scott Lax Blog

THE BOOKS

Finn put himself in very good company
Here's the partial list of the authors Finn took off the shelf that he put himself on:
William Styron, Scott Smith, Ann Hood, Pablo Neruda, William Gaines, Joseph Conrad, Larry Brown, Ron Powers, Cormac McCarthy, Roald Dahl, Peter Mayle, and W. Somerset Maugham.

A Question from a Bass Player, and Larry Brown, Again

Last night Lydia and I went for burgers and to listen to The Backup Band, a blues band comprised of some old friends of mine. I sat in on drums, and my cousin Mike sat in on guitar, and all that was fun, but what happened between sets blew me away.

My old pal Craig, the base player, came up to me and said, seemingly out of nowhere, “Have you ever read BIG BAD LOVE by Larry Brown?” I asked him if he had been reading my blog. He said no, and he didn’t know I had a Web site. I asked him if he knew I had been a friends with Larry at Bread Loaf. He said no, he just thought I’d like his work, particularly this book.

The coincidence was pretty astounding. Why is Larry Brown’s BIG BAD LOVE in the air, at least in my life?

Maybe because as writers, we delve deeper into our stories and narratives when we’re ready. I feel ready to go deeper, and confident that the book I’ve just finished accomplished that. At least, I hope so. I’ve had tragedy in my life this year; Larry’s stories are often about those who continue writing through adversity. Larry was never afraid to face the darkness in life, as well as the tenderness. And, too, it’s said that the teacher will arrive when the student is ready. So I ask myself, are Larry’s stories teaching me something?

The answer, I think, is yes. I’ll be writing about what that in days to come.  Read More 

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