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Facing the Music

4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  573 ratings  ·  39 reviews
This is the work of a writer unafraid to gaze directly at characters challenged by crisis and pathology. But for readers who are willing to look, unblinkingly, along with the writer, there are unusual rewards.
ebook, 184 pages
Published January 9th 1996 by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (first published 1984)
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(showing 1-30 of 879)
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Anthony Vacca
According to Larry Brown's first collection of short stories Facing the Music, some of the joys of life I get to look forward to over the next two decades are as follows: unfulfilling marriages, infidelity, unwanted children, domestic abuse, back problems, alcoholism, cancer, numbness, loneliness, unexpected run-ins with terminal violence, poverty and, naturally, suicide. Thanks, Larry! The second half of my twenties is already looking promising.

But before I crawl off into the nearest bottle of
Some very fine writing here. Larry Brown reminds me of Denis Johnson. Facing the Music is Southern grit lit with a dash of dark humor occasionally thrown in when you're not expecting it. These are sad souls, down on their luck, but full of desire and hot with yearning. Brown has a gift for character and dialog. One senses that he is absolutely capturing reality. I'm looking forward to reading one of his novels next.
One of the most common mistakes one can make in judging a story is to base his/her judgment on whether or not he/she likes the subject matter or characters. Using such criteria has no place in serious criticism. I mention this only because fine writers like Raymond Carver and Larry Brown are occasionally dismissed because they often write about coarse or even disreputable major characters.

Still,focusing on the less than enviable folks who show up on the pages of so many of Larry Brown's stories
Larry Brown has a distinct voice and tone to his work. The voice speaks to you from the page and the reader gets inside the heads of Brown's characters in an almost obsessive way. His stories of alcohol, infidelity, women, and romance never fail to amuse me. He is a masterful writer of the short story and this book is a nice sample of his work. I like some of these stories better than others, but I couldn't give this a lower rating because of the ones I did enjoy. When Brown is on point, he is a ...more
Sarah Pascarella
Anyone seeking warm, fuzzy, reassuring stories should go elsewhere. Brown goes to the disturbingly honest places most people spend a lifetime trying to cover up. His spotlight on the darkness of our urges is mesmerizing. It's all done with economy, too -- this slim volume packs a surprising punch, and the characters haunted me for days. Brown is also willing to take risks with form, making the reader even more off-kilter.
Great collection. Seems like Brown was trying on voices with these stories. Hints of the masterful storytelling to come later in his novels. Funny, gritty, real. Classic Brown is glimpsed as he works in a variety of voices; maybe trying to settle on the one that would best tell the stories he was to tell later.

Liked this a great deal.
Brown was a great southern writer - these stories spin around a theme of people coming to a crux in their life - whether self created or not. Almost all come from a history of the stereotypical rough side of southern life, but the reader understands Brown has lived there, known these people, and been respectable honest about them.
I enjoyed Big Bad Love a lot, and but I think this collection, Brown's first, is even better. It's what you would expect if you've ever read any of Brown's stories--lots of drinking, down-and-out men and women in failing relationships/marriages, violence, and, perhaps surprisingly, humor. Though he doesn't do this in every story, it's Brown is not afraid to allow a story to be funny, even if it's a deadly serious situation for the characters. That's hard to do.

Brown "experiments" in two stories:
"Facing The Music" is Larry Brown's first published book. Reading a Larry Brown's stories are like talking to a rural Mississippi white guy down on his luck. He has the wonderful gift of writing exactly like a person would talk...people with coolers of beer iced down in the back floorboards of their cars, always struggling with their women, jail, or losing their job...he could take the ordinary and make it extraordinary. He authored 10 books before his death in 2004, at the age of 53. He is high ...more
Betsy Robinson
Whether he is writing the inner dialogue of a drunk black woman or a white farmer at the end of his rope or a boy seeking revenge for the death of his dog, there is something so raw and intimately, delicately human here. Brown distills the most private human confusion, shame, hubris, hurt, anger, and self-delusion into spare writing that goes into the reader like emotion pushed through an IV. I found myself rocking and moaning. The range and diversity of the writing is also perfection. He’ll pla ...more
Lady R.E. Miller
The story "Kubuku Rides" scared the crap out of me, so much in fact, that I actually started drinking less! I thought this story and the title story were best, but overall a wonderful book.

p.s. If anyone can tell me what "Kubuku" means or where Larry Brown got that title I'd be very grateful.
Mitch Duckworth
Make it a 3.5 star rating . . . My love and admiration for Larry Brown are boundless (thanks again, Derrick Reider, for recommending I read him), but I'm very happy to have consumed this debut collection of stories only after absorbing such novels as Joe, and Dirty Work beforehand. Had I read this title first, I would have found LB novels eventually, but my approach would have been less enthusiastic and occurred only somewhere down the road.

Facing the Music appeared early (1988) in the Brown leg
Paul Harris
A truly striking collection of disparate and desperate characters from the back lanes and dive bars, and the woodlands and cotton fields of North Mississippi.


1) Facing The Music -

In with a bang. One husband contemplates his fidelity while his wife hopes to distract him from watching the late movie on TV... A very powerful opening salvo you won't easily forget.

2) Kubuku Rides (This Is it) -

A heartbreaking portrayal of secrets and lies, and addiction within the family.

3) The Rich -

A revealin
Really liked this. First time i've read Larry Brown, and the first/title story won me over at once. It was super Raymond Carver right off the bat, but that works for me. The opening story is beautiful, first and last sentences killed me.

The whole collection is depressing without a doubt, gave me a gross feeling every time i picked the book up. Lots of alcoholism, dismal marriages, and the like. He worked with these themes well. Dogs -- dead ones -- seem to be a small theme throughout the book, a
The stories in the collection are a mixture of experimentalism, and traditional stories with down-n-out Carver characters. In the traditional stories Brown does a couple of things really well. He captures character voice; you can hear these characters talking as they narrate. The other thing is he gets his characters to the point where they know they are screwing up, puts them right at the point where all they have to do is stop, even has them express it, but they continue on. He does this a few ...more
Michael Smith
I finally got around to reading Larry Brown's FIRST book, years after I started reading his others like JOE and FAY and DIRTY WORK. FACING THE MUSIC is a great collection of short stories that are as true to my Southern roots as sweet iced tea and a piece of peach pie. These characters are real people. Working people. People with issues. Lustful people. People with problems. Real people with no sugar coating. There are a couple of experimental styles within the collection that made me scratch my ...more
Larry Brown's first published work, a collection of 10 short stories. As the title of the book, and also the first story in the collection indicate the overarching theme of the tales in this work are about facing the consequences of some action either occurring in the story or in a characters past. The characters whilst all having a distinctly Southern flavour are magnificently varied and colourful. Larry Brown experiments with a number of story telling structures, from one story made up of sent ...more
There were a couple of stories that I really responded to - the one about the farmer; the story about the carless bar guy with his barroom floozy. The story about the boy who threw the brick.

Some observations: It seems like the majority of the male characters in the book have suffered a very large betrayal, and most of them also share a kind of helplessness. Also, the relationship between men and dogs is an interesting subject in the book.

The writing was pretty good - but at times I felt like a
Oliver Bateman
An underrated collection of short stories: "The Rich" is an uproarious profile of a travel agent who serves the wealthy, "Night Life" is an affecting examination of the barriers between men and women, and "The End of Romance" is the most innovative break-up story I've ever read. I despise these "sorta like A and sorta like B" descriptions, but Brown is best understood as a cross between Hubert Selby Jr. and Raymond Carver: He's more understated than the former and more sincere than the latter. F ...more
True to its description, the first story in this collection was deliciously sad, bringing to mind Carver with its unhappy, booze-fueled anti-romance. But like most of Brown's characters, it went downhill from there. The grace notes are awkward, and the epiphanies forced (in the second story, the final scene involves the main character's husband turning off the porch light as she leaves to go buy booze). Because of the author's subject matter and writing style, I can see why Barry Hannah was aske ...more
It's rare to read an author for the first time and to have the feeling that you are going to read everything they've ever done. Facing the Music is a powerful collection of short stories. Brown doesn't shy away from showing you the ugliness in human beings or in the hands that the world can deal them. He can be brutally honest and won't show you the light at the end of the tunnel if there isn't one. I was impressed with how well developed the characters were in these shorts. I'm looking forward ...more
Guy Salvidge
Some stories, including the title one, were excellent, while others were merely decent. My favourite was called 'Leaving Town'. Pretty soon I'll have read all of Larry Brown, the way I'm going. He's a good writer.
Eh. I really like Larry Brown, but this really isn't as developed as his better work. You can see he's experimenting with characterization and voice, but a lot of it's really forced (the poem about a dead dog) or even borderline troubling (the over-the-top dialect). Some of the stories are well-constructed and hint at what he'd later do. Even "Big Bad Love," which came out two years after this, was vastly superior.
Brown was recommended to me by one of my professors based on my liking of Faulkner (I haven't read enough Faulkner to say I love him yet). I could sort of see the resemblance, but much like Dubus, there is only so much swindling, drinking, and adultering I can read in one collection of stories without growing bored. This is blessedly short, and a couple of the stories I like a whole lot. The rest were pretty meh.
I've enjoyed Brown's novels and at least one collection of short stories.
This collection, however, left me wanting. To be fair, I generally don't enjoy short the time I'm invested in the story, it's over.
Such is the case here. I found myself unable to wallow around in the stories due to the necessary length. Nothing ventured, nothing gained however.
Oct 28, 2008 Nancy rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nancy by: Johnnie Stroud
I hated this book. It was so incredibly depressing, and disgusting, and sad, and disturbing, and despondent. However, the writing was creative and well-done, and I could see a David Sedaris fan possibly enjoying a couple of the stories.
Kathleen Van Vickle
Really great southern short stories. I have just discovered this author, and was saddened to then find out that he passed away in 2004. He had a unique southern voice that almost reminds you of a modern day Faulkner.
Brooks Kohler
This book was given to me as a gift. I let it collect dust for a year, and then one day I picked it up. Now, I constantly turn to it when I need some inspiration.

The stories are gritty and come across as authentic.
Facing the Music is an excellent short story collection, containing one of the most interesting semi-minimalist stories I have ever come across, titled: a boy and dog. This story alone is worth the read.
You'd be shocked by this book. Not in how good it is, because yeah yeah we get it already. But some of these stories are fucking weird. In their form I mean. In a good way.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Larry Brown was an American writer who was born and lived in Oxford, Mississippi. Brown wrote fiction and nonfiction. He graduated from high school in Oxford but did not go to college. Many years later, he took a creative writing class from the Mississippi novelist Ellen Dou
More about Larry Brown...
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