Larry Brown: A Writer’s Life by Jean Cash is the recipient of the 2012 C. Hugh Holman Award. This is an annual award, given by The Society for the Study of Southern Literature, for the best book of literary scholarship or literary criticism in the field of Southern Literature published during a given calendar year.
This the first biography of a landmark southern writer whose life was cut tragically short.
Drawing on excerpts from his numerous letters and material from many interviews with family members and friends, Cash covers Brown’s history in Mississippi, the troubled family in which he grew up, and his boyhood in Tula and Yocona, Mississippi, and in Memphis, Tennessee. There are stories from Brown’s time in the Marines, his early married life—which included sixteen years as an Oxford fireman—and what he called his “apprenticeship” period, the eight years during which he was teaching himself to write publishable fiction.
The core of Larry Brown: A Writer’s Life examines Brown’s years as a writer: the stories and novels he wrote, his struggles to acclimate himself to the fame his writing brought him, and his many trips outside Yocona, the community outside Oxford where he spent the last thirty years of his life. The book also features many photographs of Brown, his family, and friends, drawn from personal collections.
The biography concludes with a discussion of his posthumous fame, including the publication of A Miracle of Catfish, the novel he had nearly completed just before his death. Altogether, the book presents a comprehensive portrait of a transcendent southern writer.
Jean W. Cash is professor emerita of English at James Madison University. She is the author of Flannery O'Connor: A Life and coeditor of Larry Brown and the Blue-Collar South, also from UPM.
The Holman award is named for the late highly esteemed scholar of Southern Literature, C. Hugh Holman, who taught at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The award will be conferred during the 2013 Modern Language Association Convention in Boston