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Father and Son

Father and Son

5.0 2
by Larry Brown

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Father and Son tells the story of five days following Glen Davis’s return to the small Mississippi town where he grew up. Five days. In this daring psychological thriller, these are five days you’ll never forget.

Convicted and sentenced on a vehicular homicide charge, Glen is the bad seed--the haunted, angry, drunken, and dangerous son of


Father and Son tells the story of five days following Glen Davis’s return to the small Mississippi town where he grew up. Five days. In this daring psychological thriller, these are five days you’ll never forget.

Convicted and sentenced on a vehicular homicide charge, Glen is the bad seed--the haunted, angry, drunken, and dangerous son of Virgil and Emma Davis. Bobby Blanchard is the sheriff, as different from Glen as can be imagined, but in love with the same woman--the mother of Glen’s illegitimate son.

Before he’s been back in town thirty-six hours, Glen has robbed his war-crippled father, bullied and humiliated his younger brother, and rejected his son, David. Bobby finds himself sorting through the mayhem Glen leaves in his wake--a murdered bar owner, a rape, Glen’s terrorized family, and the little boy who needs a father. And, as he gets closer and closer to the murderous Glen, tension builds like a Mississippi thunderstorm about to break loose.

This classic face-off of good against evil is told in the clear, unflinching voice that won Larry Brown some of literature’s most prestigious awards. And, reverberating with dark excitement, biblical echoes, and a fast, cinematic pacing, this novel puts a new side of his genius on display--the ability to build suspense to an almost unbearable pitch.

Father and Son is the story of a powerfully complex kinship, an exhilarating and heart-stopping story.

1997 Southern Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
It takes formidable talent to mesmerize readers of a novel that focuses on a deeply flawed, unsympathetic protagonist, but Brown succeeds triumphantly in his most wise, humane and haunting work to date. On the first day that Glen Davis is released from the Mississippi state pen (after serving three years for running over a child while he was drunk), he kills two men; that night, he callously tells the mother of his toddler son that marriage is not part of his plans. On the second day, he rapes a teenaged girl. Glen is a despicable personmean, icily remote, seemingly without conscience. Sheriff Bobby Blanchard is Glen's opposite; a kind and decent man, he epitomizes integrity and responsibility. Bobby is in love with Jewel, the mother of Glen's son, and their relationship is only one of the heartwrenching dramas played out here. Only halfway through the book do we learn that Bobby is Glen's half brother; both are sons of Virgil Davis, whom Glen demonizes and hates and whom Bobby wistfully wishes would acknowledge him. In fact, all of the characters are involved in a web of secret relationships, and much of the resonance of this suspenseful narrative is due to Brown's adroit pacing, as he releases surprising information gradually and with natural understatement. Despite Glen's coldhearted deeds, we come to understand him, too, as he progresses to a desperate act of rage and revenge. As in his previous novels, Brown (Dirty Work; Joe) uses lean, lyrical prose to evoke the cadenced speech and the atmosphere of the rural south in the 1960s, where everybody chainsmokes and drinks whiskey. Though he depicts a basic conflict of good and evil, however, Brown never reduces the issues to stark polarities. Most impressive here are Brown's compassionate view of human nature and his understanding of the subtleties of human behavior and the fabric of society, which, after tragedy reknits itself anew, to reaffirm the essential kinship of a community of souls. Author tour. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Glen Davis returns to his Mississippi Delta hometown in 1968 having served three years in prison for vehicular homicide. Fueled by guilt over his accidental shooting of his brother when they were children and anger at his drunken, neglectful father, Glen has a burning desire to even the score for every real and imagined slight he has suffered. The person who must stop him is his hated half-brother Bobby, the county sheriff and emblem of his father's infidelity and ill-treatment of his mother. A tale of brothers as much as fathers and sons, this novel is filled with the gritty, working-class realism of one of Bruce Springsteen's darker songs and resonates back to Cain and Abel and Jacob and Esau. Brown has come a long way since Facing the Music (LJ 9/15/88). For most public libraries.Lawrence Rungren, Merrimack Valley Lib. Consortium, Andover, Mass.
John Mort
It's 1968 near Oxford, Mississippi, and Glen Davis has come home from prison. He drinks and plots revenge against all who have wronged him, especially his father, a gentle, shiftless alcoholic whom Glen blames for his mother's death, and Sheriff Bobby Blanchard, who arrested the drunken Glen for manslaughter after he ran down a young boy with his car. Glen's girlfriend, Jewel, has waited faithfully for him, hoping to secure a husband and a father for their son, but Glen just wants sex. In fact, he's a predator, soon picking up a flirtatious teenager and raping her, then plotting rape against Blanchard's mother when Jewel rejects him for Blanchard. Glen may remind the reader of Joe Christmas in Faulkner's "Light in August": the two share a brooding anger and a confused parentage, and both become murderers. But Brown has no character such as Gail Hightower, crying out to deaf Heaven, nor is Glen tortured by racial schizophrenia. He's just a drunken psychopath. And Brown leaves a lot of loose ends: What are we to make of Glen's unwitting theft of his dead mother's money, for instance, or of the peaceful interlude when Glen goes fishing with an old friend? Where did this old friend come from? On the other hand, Brown muses on the legacies of fathers to sons quite effectively, avoiding every bromide. Not Faulkner by a long shot, but, as in Brown's gritty "Joe" (1991), there's great power here and almost unendurable suspense; Brown's two rape scenes visit with pure evil.
Kirkus Reviews
From a small rural southern world of guns and hounds and whiskey, Mississippi writer Brown (Joe, 1991, etc.) fashions a redneck tragedy of timeless dimensions—a novel in which fate drives the plot to its necessarily bloody denouement.

A portrait of true evil is at the heart of this sad tale of betrayal and revenge, with its almost casual allusions to fratricide, parricide, and incest. Evil has a name: Glen Davis, the bad seed of Virgil and Emma, who arrives back in town after serving three years for vehicular homicide in Parchman penitentiary, where he seems to have nursed his grudges and hates, all of which he settles in the few days covered in this novel. High on his list of unfinished business is his old lover, Jewel, the mother of a four- year-old boy he refuses to acknowledge. Faithful through his prison stay, Jewel realizes how hopeless their future is, and when Glen returns, she turns to Bobby Blanchard, the sheriff who loves her and whose own history is closely tied to Glen's. In his first hours back home, Glen robs, rapes, and murders, proving beyond a doubt his bone-level badness. Without forgiving Glen's behavior, Brown sketches in his troubled past: the accidental shooting of his brother Theron, his mother's bizarre sexual behavior, and her relentless fixation on the idea that Blanchard's widowed mother is her husband's true love—which isn't so far from the truth, though they've always behaved honorably. Meanwhile, Bobby's job brings him face to face with evil's many forms: a hillbilly dad who kills his crying son, a grownup man who kills his daddy, and the just plain inexplicable fate that takes an 11-year-old's life by drowning. Providential order asserts itself in Glen's bloody punishment—a punishment he not only deserves but seems, finally, to invite.

A riveting tale of an unforgiving and cruel world.

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Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
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Kaye Gibbons
This is the novel that will live with you day and night.

Meet the Author

Larry Brown was born in Lafayette County, Mississippi, where he lived all his life. At the age of thirty, a captain in the Oxford Fire Department, he decided to become a writer and worked toward that goal for seven years before publishing his first book, Facing the Music, a collection of stories, in 1988. With the publication of his first novel, Dirty Work, he quit the fire station in order to write fulltime. Between then and his untimely death in 2004, he published seven more books. His three grown children and his widow, Mary Annie Brown, live near Oxford.

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Father and Son 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Make no mistake about it, this is a major work of fiction. The story is fascinating; the characters are real; the tension holds the reader until the very end. This work ranks right up there with the classics.