Review

Fay

by Larry Brown

Larry Brown dedicates FAY, his latest novel, to Harry Crews,
"my uncle in all ways but blood." How true. The literary work of
Brown and Crews (and for that matter, Cormac McCarthy, in his
southern period) are well met of the truly forgotten, the truly
disenfranchised people of this country, the impoverished and
working class white Americans of the South and Appalachia. I do not
mean by this that Brown's work is an imitation, or even a tribute,
to that of Crews. It is simply that Brown, a former fireman in
Oxford, Mississippi, is, like Crews, able to paint stunning,
unblinking descriptions of these areas and the people who inhabit
them in such a way that he can open doors and windows and hearts
and souls, leaving his readers breathless, stunned, shocked, and
enchanted.
FAY
begins with the title's namesake, a beautiful 17-year-old woman,
walking out of the hills of Mississippi, escaping the horror of
attempted sexual abuse by her father, a migrant farm worker with a
penchant for drink, bad judgment, and wife beating. FAY has only a
vague idea about where she is going, having had almost no
schooling. She only knows that wherever she is going can be no
worse than what she is leaving. And as Brown reveals her home life,
piece by piece, the reader is left with the same conclusion. Brown
allows his readers to get to know this unintentional femme fatale,
this quiet tornado who sweeps through the small towns and tourist
cities of our country's most impoverished state, leaving broken
hearts --- a state trooper, a pilot, a bouncer --- and bleeding
bodies behind her. Fay possesses a combination of beauty, survival
instincts, and innocence; this would be an unstable combination in
any environment, but in the Mississippi backwoods, in the strip
clubs and main drag of Biloxi, it becomes an explosive
one.
Brown, in FAY, combines his considerable literary talents with
his knowledgeable and sympathetic eye to create a masterpiece of
modern fiction. This is a tale that, like all great literature,
will not gather dust on a shelf but that will be read again and
again.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 24, 2011

Fay
by Larry Brown

  • Publication Date: April 17, 2001
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 489 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • ISBN-10: 0743205383
  • ISBN-13: 9780743205382