NOW WITH A FOREWORD BY RON RASH AND AN APPRECIATION BY DWIGHT GARNER
“One of the finest books I know about blue-collar work in America, its rewards and frustrations . . . If you are among the tens of millions who have never read Brown, this is a perfect introduction.” —Dwight Garner, The New York Times
On January 6, 1990, after seventeen years on the job, Larry Brown quit the Oxford, Mississippi, fire department to try writing full-time. In On Fire, he looks back on his life as a firefighter. His 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 drove this award-winning novelist.
As a firefighter and fireman-turned-author, as husband and hunter, and as father and son, Brown offers insights into the choices men face pursuing their life’s work. And, in the forthright style we expect from Larry Brown, his narrative builds to the explanation of how one man who regularly confronted death began to burn with the desire to write about life.
“Larry Brown has an ear for the way people talk, an eye for their habits and manners, a heart for the frailties and foibles, and a love for their struggles and triumphs. His fireman’s diary is a wonderful book.” —John Grisham
“Larry Brown is never romantic about danger . . . In this book he goes through his life with the same meticulous attention with which Thoreau circled the woods around Walden Pond.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Clear, simple, and powerful, and great rowdy fun to read.” —Time
“Larry Brown has slapped his own fresh tattoo on the big right arm of Southern lit.” —The Washington Post
Larry Brown was born in Lafayette County, Mississippi, where he lived all his life. At the age of thirty, a captain in the Oxford Fire Department, he decided to become a writer and worked toward that goal for seven years before publishing his first book, Facing the Music, a collection of stories, in 1988. With the publication of his first novel, Dirty Work, he quit the fire station in order to write full time. (The nonfiction book On Fire tells the story of his many years as a firefighter.) Between then and his untimely death in 2004, he published seven more books. He was awarded the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters award for fiction and was the first two-time winner of the Southern Book Award for Fiction, which he won in 1992 for Joe, and again in 1997 for Father and Son. He was the recipient of a Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Award and Mississippi's Governor's Award For Excellence in the Arts. The story "Big Bad Love" became the basis for a feature film, as did his novel Joe.