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Billy Ray's Farm

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  297 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
In his first work of nonfiction since the acclaimed "On Fire," Brown aims for nothing short of ruthlessly capturing the truth of the world in which he has always lived. In the prologue to the book, he tells what it's like to be constantly compared with William Faulkner, a writer with whom he shares inspiration from the Mississippi land. The essays that follow show that inf ...more
ebook, 216 pages
Published April 1st 2001 by Algonquin Books (first published 2001)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Richard
I have, had, and will continue to have such respect for Larry Brown--first off, that this man quite simply decided to be a writer one day, and from there worked his butt off to make that happen. His tales of writing several novels and over a hundred short stories before he wrote anything that he considered the work of a writer is quite simply archetypal. When there seems to be some concern about the effect of prodigious MFA program on the state and audience of writing, Larry Brown reminded us th ...more
Diann Blakely
Brown’s new nonfiction collection pulls no punches with its reader; moreover, it spares its author nothing. Which isn’t to say that this new book will put Brown alongside those memoirists who mistakenly equate their genre with verbal exhibitionism. The title piece and “The Whore in Me” are so tough, so grown-up, and so mercilessly wise that I want to punch in the noses of the lazy-ass reviewers who continue to categorize Brown as “king of the white trash.” Labels are cheap; self-knowledge is not ...more
Diann Blakely
In BILLY RAY'S FARM, as in ON FIRE and Brown's fiction, he pulls no punches with his readers; moreover, BILLY RAY'S FARM spares its author nothing. Which isn’t to say that this new book will put Brown alongside those memoirists who mistakenly equate their genre with verbal exhibitionism. The title piece and “The Whore in Me” are so tough, so grown-up, and so mercilessly wise that I want to punch in the noses of the lazy-ass reviewers who continue to categorize Brown as “king of the white trash.” ...more
Mark Ewing
Oct 16, 2010 Mark Ewing rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great look inside the daily life of a man who became an author through hard work. Another great writer who stepped off the mortal coil far to soon.
Dale
Mar 20, 2016 Dale rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the Prologue to this book Larry Brown writes "And I think whatever you write about, you have to know it. Concretely. Absolutely. Realistically." And then he proceeds to write about things he knows about: baby goats and coyotes, Billy Ray's farm, where all that grows is bad luck, building a small house on the perfect spot by the small pond, the prospect of free fish if the spillway is pumped down to be checked for cracks, his mentoring by and friendship with Harry Crews.

In reading Brown previ
...more
Lyn
Mar 21, 2015 Lyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, southern
My husband is a huge fan of Larry Brown, and I watched the documentary on him, so I was eager to read his work. I don't believe I should've begun with his essays.

It's not that Brown isn't a good essayist in his own right; he's got a unique voice and he shares great details from his eventful life full of bovine and construction dramas, worlds as foreign to me as Navy Seals or coal mining. I think that's what kept me reading, the details of whether this cow would give birth or whether this house h
...more
Robert
Dec 07, 2012 Robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a nice quick read. I've had heard about his troubles, his sensitivity to place, the comparisons to Faulkner and I am aware he died young. It turns out much of his work is currently out of print. I have an interest in things agrarian. A collection of essays seemed to be a fine place to get a feel for Larry Brown's writing. It was exactly that. Several of the essays discuss his initiation into the literary world. He discusses with honesty his struggle to find his voice in letters and wher ...more
Ann
Aug 17, 2011 Ann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who enjoys books about the rural south
Recommended to Ann by: cannot recall but thank you very much!
The only criticism I have of Larry Brown's "Billy Ray's Farm" is that I wish it was longer. Larry Brown died some years ago at quite a young age and I had to find second hand copies through Amazon--I never intend to sell them. Billy Ray's Farm is a selection of fictional essays although Larry Brown's did have a son named Billy Ray. As all his books, it is set in rural Mississippi with very true to life people riding around with coolers of beer in the back seat of their cars, going about everyday ...more
Shane
Jul 09, 2014 Shane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't read much nonfiction, not because I don't care for it but because I spend my time reading and writing fiction, learning the craft in part from those who've done it better than I might ever hope to. But this collection of essays--with its talk of book tours and relationships with other writers, specifically Harry Crews, that dirty old bastard who comes off more sweet than anything else here--can teach you a thing or two about community and following your instincts, your internal voice. I ...more
Richard
Feb 17, 2016 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I find it almost therapeutic to return to a Larry Brown book. His writing is so simple, but elegant and much deeper than a surface reading would reveal. This book is a collection of short stories, whose common link is place, specifically his son's farm and Larry's fishing pond and cabin in Tula, MS. He is writing about what he knows and makes it interesting and engaging. It is a snapshot of his and his family's life, a reflection on the process of writing, and above all a celebration of a place ...more
Daisy
Mar 24, 2008 Daisy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: swooningly-good
Collection of essays by the late Larry Brown - probably some of the most beautiful writings about the redneck life ever crafted. I don't think I've ever been as sad as when Brown, writing about his son's inability to make his farm profitable, wrote, 'I can't understand why everything my son touches turns to shit," after Billy Ray (he of the farm in the title) has a cow die on him while it's trying to give birth. Could one sentence ever capture the modern American south so fully? I think I cried ...more
Ray
May 30, 2011 Ray rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I began reading Larry Brown's work in the 80's after reading an interview with Harry Crews. There is an essay in this book about their friendship.
Larry writes about a number of gifted authors including Madison Jones, an influence on Crews.
What strikes me most about Larry's writing is how honest, simple and emotional it is.
I spent some time in Oxford MS which is also home to the great Living Blues Magazine and Fat Possum Records. It's like an oasis in Misssissippi.
Vaughan
Sep 09, 2008 Vaughan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Getting back to my Southern roots with the late, great Larry Brown. These essays are, for the most part, soothing, which is just what I need right now. 12/9 updating the old shelves etc. Finished this one a while back--great book
Joshua
Nov 14, 2009 Joshua rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2009
Larry Brown dishes out some essays about living in rural Mississippi. It's classic Brown: no nonsense, spare writing, no phoniness whatsoever. Great writing. Some of the essays subject matter was more interesting than others or this would have rated higher for me.
Kelly
Dec 15, 2009 Kelly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh, I love that Larry Brown. I had set this aside, though, thinking only his fiction could light my fire, and this looked like some boring essays on cattle ranching and thinking about maybe going to a fish haul. But they turned out to be great. I sure like the way he talks.
Jessica
Jul 24, 2007 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although I know basically nothing about farming or farm life, Larry Brown's writing is engaging and amusing. The title essay, "Billy Ray's Farm," is particularly sharp.
Glen
Jan 16, 2008 Glen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved the fish catch story.
Pretty interesting short story collection intro into modern southern gothic.
Diana Matei
Jan 04, 2014 Diana Matei rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love, love, love Larry Brown. I think his writing is so soothing and simple and feels very earnest and from the heart. However, I could never get into this one. Least favorite for sure.
Jordanbl
Oct 10, 2010 Jordanbl rated it really liked it
Shelves: essay
Larry Brown writes about spending time at his friend Billy Ray's farm. He has many adventures learning how to raise cows and goats.
Brian Tucker
May 31, 2014 Brian Tucker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not being one to naturally gravitate towards nonfiction, I'm floored by this work. Larry Brown was a champ. I finally see it.
Steven
Steven rated it really liked it
Jun 19, 2010
Joshua Rollins
Joshua Rollins rated it it was amazing
Jan 29, 2011
Jeremy Huber
Jeremy Huber rated it really liked it
Mar 31, 2012
Ryan Cassidy
Ryan Cassidy rated it really liked it
Jul 22, 2013
Josefritz
Josefritz rated it really liked it
Feb 26, 2010
Robbie Head
Robbie Head rated it really liked it
Jan 26, 2016
Ned Mozier
Ned Mozier rated it really liked it
Jun 15, 2013
Jeffrey Keeten
Jeffrey Keeten rated it really liked it
Mar 25, 2011
Tess Martinez
Tess Martinez rated it really liked it
Jan 05, 2015
Josh
Josh rated it it was amazing
Mar 17, 2016
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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
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