cover image Facing the Music: Stories

Facing the Music: Stories

Larry Brown. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, $12.95 (167pp) ISBN 978-0-912697-91-8

A fireman-turned-writer from Oxford, Miss., Faulkner's hometown, Brown uses vernacular speech to good effect in these 10 raw, festering tales of the Deep South. His protagonists, nearly all men, seek escape in booze, sex, TV, religion and fantasy; a few are redeemed by good intentions, most muddle through. In the comic and sad title story, a husband is reluctant to make love to his wife because of her mastectomy. Several pieces experiment with form. ``Julie: A Memory,'' a stream-of-consciousness rant, splices fragmentary recollections of teenage sex, abortion, murder; in ``Leaving Town,'' a tawdry romantic affair is relayed in alternating voices by a married bricklayer and the ``other'' woman in the triangle. ``Night Life'' is an auto mechanic's lament about the crazy women he picks up in bars. There is an unvarying sameness to many of these unfulfilled lives, but Brown pierces the macho armor to discover the hurt, love and caring. (September)