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Big Bad Love: Stories

4.12  ·  Rating Details ·  1,745 Ratings  ·  115 Reviews
Larry Brown caught the rapt attention of readers and critics with the 1988 publication of Facing the Music, his prize-winning first collection of stories. The following year, his first novel, Dirty Work, won national acclaim as a work of uncompromising power and honesty. Big Bad Love, his third book, collects ten new stories. Dealing with sex, with drink, with fear, with a ...more
ebook, 140 pages
Published September 30th 1990 by Algonquin Books
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Community Reviews

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Mar 27, 2014 Melki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Melki by: John Turner
The whole world seemed to be trying to be decent, and I seemed an indecent thing in it.*

This one was recommended to me by my pal John, who described it as "... a two evening read filled with social misfits." Though I spend most of my evenings surrounded by social misfits, I decided to give a read anyway. I'm fairly glad I did, as the book provides an excellent glimpse into what your friends, neighbors, and maybe even some of your relatives, might be getting up to behind closed doors.

Most of the
W Perry

I really appreciated and enjoyed Brown's novel Joe. Here though, the stories seemed somewhat juvenile, the dialogue forced and the sex disgusting. I think Brown worked around some "sho-nuff" rednecks before beginning his writing career. From personal experience, I know how this can scar the somewhat sensitive soul: at 18, I worked a summer in a factory with nothing but blue collar rednecks (God bless 'em: a Southern phrase to cushion the blow) who provided me an assortment of som
Anthony Vacca
May 08, 2016 Anthony Vacca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A collection of short stories that exude Bukowski's influence on Brown like beer sweat on a miserably muggy Mississippi afternoon. But unlike Bukowski, Brown is an infinitely more imaginative and gifted writer, and each of these stories about men behaving badly carries more weight than just being celebrations of methomania and misanthropy. Each of the first eight stories knowingly features what can be interpreted as a stand-in for Larry Brown (all of these boozy first-person protagonists having ...more
Diane Barnes
Jun 29, 2015 Diane Barnes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Larry Brown, and I loved these short stories. He manages to make us understand and feel sorry for the losers he writes about. They mean well and have good intentions, but they just need a beer to think straight, and then another one and another, and......
These stories are funny and sad at the same time. Absolutely hilarious to the reader on the outside looking in, until you realize that there's something a little tragic in the telling.

The last story in the collection "92" seemed a bit sem
Kirk Smith
I run hot and cold on Larry Brown, but there is some creative brilliance in 'Discipline'. I laughed out loud on a few things so I plan to follow through and read all of his work. My favorite by LB is 'Fay', a book I will probably read again some day. I thought he pushes the shock value button a little too much with this collection. As I described my thoughts earlier: "Ooops!! I stepped in some Grit!!"
Diane S ☔
Aug 12, 2015 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 These are not stories of the genteel South, ,where people are concerned with their reputations. Nope, these are crass, crude stories of those often talked about in country western songs. Pick-up trucks, driving down country roads aimlessly, some married but always on the lookout for something better and if they can't figure out an answer to the problems of their lives or they feel and unwanted emotion, why they just have another beer. Alcohol fixes everything.

Yet there was something that in
Aug 02, 2015 Camie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ok , I took one for the team , and anyone who thought any earlier monthly choice was too Chick lit , sweet and fluffy , I'd say we're even. Rifle racks in pickup trucks, beer, and women ( mostly dreamed up) , the only think I can think of to call this is loser lit. ( not wanting to call it man lit, or guy lit If you weren't depressed when you started this book , you may very well be by time you're done. This author is a married guy , with three kids , and has written a book called Facing ...more
3.5 stars

This was good in a Kurt Vonnegut sort of way, and while I appreciate the superb quality of writing and relevant themes, generally speaking, it's just not my favorite kind of storytelling.

I imagine this collection will hold appeal to the literary community, particularly those struggling writers out there who may relate all too well to the protagonists in a number of the stories.

Intelligent, different, and well-written. Three stars because sometimes I have a limited tolerance for certain
Apr 19, 2008 Lydia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Damn, I love Larry Brown. I just can't get over him, and everytime I remember that he's died, I mourn that I'll soon run out of things of his to read. He somehow writes stories that are at once familiar and foreign. To be honest, the people he writes about are people I would have avoided in Mississippi. I fully admit my classism and snobbery here. And he doesn't make me want to go back and become friends with them. But he does make my heart break for them. Big Bad Love is a collection of stories ...more
Jul 23, 2015 Franky rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection was a mixed bag for me. I thought many of the stories in Part 1 were a bit repetitive and unnecessarily crude. The stories have a consistent theme of the narrator, who seems out of luck and love, trying to find himself, happiness or meaning in life. However, many times he tries to find it at the bottom of a can of Old Milwaukee. Some have said there is a bleakness, which I agree, but I think Brown writes it in a more of comically grim sort of way. A few notable stories that I did ...more
Mar 28, 2012 Melanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

The short stories in this collection are entertaining, bluesy in that doo-wop way and plenty fun.

The narrator in each short story could be the same guy, likely the point: that big bad love brings out the big bad wolf in us all.

3.5 stars.
Hated it. While I appreciate Brown's writing (he is a good writer), his stories are filled with beer, sex, and bars, and his characters are all unhappily married and seem to be getting sadder and more depressed by the page. The stories were just too bleak, and I kept hoping something, anything, would turn around, but it didn't. I think when a writer reaches that point when he cannot do anything for his characters, he should not be writing that story, but Brown keeps going, people keep dying, mar ...more
Jul 17, 2007 Marley marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
I won this book in a breakup-letter-writing contest. It's signed, in pencil. Who signs in pencil? Amateur! But ok, it might be good, and I have a nagging goal of reading the books I own. This one is at my parents' house... one of these days, I guess.
Winter Branch
Dec 07, 2007 Winter Branch rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Grit Lit
Shelves: fiction
This was one of the better short stories collections I ever read. All of the stories are linked together with similar themes. For the most part the collection reads as a loose narrative telling the tales of some very amusing and complex characters set in rural Mississippi (director Arliss Howard incorporated this idea into his film adaption of one of the book's stories).

The highlights include a guy that complains that a certain part of his wife's body is way too big for his liking or the story
Michael Anthony
Nov 25, 2012 Michael Anthony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I debated whether or not to give this collection of short stories 3 or 5 stars, and though I ended up with 4, it's certainly not what it deserves. Separately, each of these stories has earned closer to 5 in my book, but as they're collected, they seem to run together. When Big Bad Love is read as a whole it's difficult to decipher one from the other. Don't get me wrong, Brown is a fantastic writer with strong characters and a terrific ear for dialogue, but if you're planning on picking up this c ...more
Larry, Larry, Larry. Who in the heck were you? These stories are dark and written in first person and they are all about people that I know I certainly wouldn't want to be good friends with. These stories aren't the best thing I've read by the late Mr. Brown - but I miss him so. So I'm willing to read whatever's left out there that I haven't yet read.
Jul 02, 2007 Rusty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
This collection was my introduction to Larry Brown, and has remained one of my favorite books for a long time now. If you like rural settings and gritty, down on their luck men who struggle to make their way in the world, especially with women, you'll like this book.
May 16, 2012 Nate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
This book removed the top of my head. Larry Brown is incredible. So much emotional power it's a little ridiculous. I'm pretty bummed this is the last of his fiction that I haven't read. The good news is that his writing is so good it deserves multiple re-reads.
Big Bad Love: Larry Brown Looks at Love and Other Things

Complete review to follow. There's a lot to reckon on with this collection of short stories.

May 09, 2007 Greg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brown's stories, all save for one written in the first-person, feature wonderfully authentic narrative voices. As a transplanted Southern male, the rhythms and dictions of Brown's narrators were nearly enough to give me flashbacks. However, the narrators were largely undifferentiated; they bled into one another, and the voice that had seemed so singularly wonderful when I read the first story felt somewhat threadbare by the time I finished the closing novella.

These stories are also sunk deep wit
Jan 05, 2012 Kurt rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is in three parts:

Part 1. A collection of very, very readable short stories - typical Larry Brown. A complaint is that these stories go a little too far over the line of "sharing a common theme," and begin falling into an area of, "this is the same story, with the same character, over and over, again."

Part 2. Is a slightly longer short story that might very well be the worst thing I've ever read by an acclaimed author. It's a joke story, like the type of thing you write when you're bor
Ava Butzu
Jan 05, 2014 Ava Butzu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In these loosely connected stories of masculinity gone awry, Brown introduces a variety of guy-types who perpetually miss opportunities to straighten up their lives. With booze and women being the two Achilles heels of our misfit heroes, they manage to skate by most times in the name of survival. I found myself shaking my head when they made destructive choices, and surprised that they didn't suffer more dire circumstances for their selfish actions.

However, this may be the crux of what makes Br
Jo Ann
Jan 29, 2012 Jo Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Given to me by my son for Christmas, I was so eager to read this Southern author, as I'd read his book, Fay, in the late 90's, for book club. He's a rough 'n tumble guy, with lots of crass depictions and words: I have been teased by my book club ever since I recommended, and we read, Fay. This book of short stories apparently is reflective of many Southern men (how much of this is autobiographical, one wonders?) who have a penchant for hard drinking, fast women, fast sex, divorce, and pick up tr ...more
Tim Spears
I'll get back to this.
Jul 28, 2011 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
My first five-star read of this year, yet I didn't 'love' every story in this collection of ten shorts (nine stories and one 87 page novella). So how does that work? Well, the power of Larry Brown's writing in this second collection of his is such that while I don't think that everything he tries to do here is a complete success, the value and impact of his creation when it IS a success is so overwhelming that I have no choice but to give the book the highest rating. The novella "92 Days" which ...more
Jul 18, 2017 Steve rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A reminder here that 2 stars is "it was OK".

Southern fried Bukowski - which, for me, is not a good thing. Same kind of cult following, who seem to believe that being drunk imparts a wisdom of some sort.

I suspect that his novels are better, since he has to do a bit more in 300 pp than get his narrator drunk on beer. I don't remember, can you really get that drunk on beer?

My favorite was "Old Soldiers", which showed a glimmer of empathy and hope. "Discipline" would have been thrown out of edito
Trevor Mangan
I love Brown's novels, but the short stories never quite took off for me.
Mar 01, 2017 Kati rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't like Part II. I thought Part I was good, though sometimes the racism and sexism and all-around sorriness of the narrators was too much.
I thought Part III was very, very good. It hurt and was horrifying and was very good too.
Dec 04, 2007 Spectrum rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: South Lit. fans
Shelves: reviewed
Big Bad Love is a collection of short stories written by the late Larry Brown. As the title suggests, every story in this collection deals with love. However; the love Larry Brown delivers is not your typical Hallmark-card-greeting, love-at-first-sight romance, instead he dished out gritty, dirt road love stories. His love is the “I love-to-hate-you yet hate-that-I-love-you stories”. His relationships are dysfunctional and destructive, yet Brown manages to create some of the most real and genuin ...more
Debara Zeller
Feb 21, 2017 Debara Zeller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've loved all the Larry Brown I've read.
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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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“I only had one life, and I'd be damned if I'd live it in a way that would make me unhappy and please somebody else. I had already lived that kind of life, too much of it already.” 54 likes
“If you want to write, you've got to shut yourself up in a room and write.” 38 likes
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