Dirty Work

Dirty Work

by Larry Brown


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Dirty Work is the story of two men, strangers—one white, the other black. Both were born and raised in Mississippi. Both fought in Vietnam. Both were gravely wounded. Now, twenty-two years later, the two men lie in adjacent beds in a VA hospital.Over the course of a day and a night, Walter James and Braiden Chaney talk of memories, of passions, of fate.

With great vision, humor, and courage, Brown writes mostly about love in a story about the waste of war.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780517114513
Publisher: Random House Value Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date: 01/15/1994
Series: Vintage Contemporaries Series
Pages: 236
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 1.50(h) x 9.50(d)

About 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 full time. (The nonfiction book On Fire tells the story of his many years as a firefighter.) Between then and his untimely death in 2004, he published seven more books. He was awarded the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters award for fiction and was the first two-time winner of the Southern Book Award for Fiction, which he won in 1992 for Joe, and again in 1997 for Father and Son. He was the recipient of a Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Award and Mississippi's Governor's Award For Excellence in the Arts. The story "Big Bad Love" became the basis for a feature film, as did his novel Joe

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Dirty Work 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
snat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is one of those books that I use to size up other people. If you've read Dirty Work and you didn't love it, I don't want to know you. This was the first Larry Brown book that I ever read and, after re-reading it, it is still as powerful and haunting the second time around. The novel focuses on two Vietnam veterans in the VA hospital two decades after the war has ended. Braiden, a black quadraplegic, has spent this entire time in the hospital and his imagination is his only means of escape. When Walter arrives under mysterious circumstances, Braiden thinks he's found his salvation. Walter's face was horribly mutilated and shell fragments lodged in his brain cause him to have uncontrollable "blackouts" from which he awakens with no memory. As these two men talk about their lives as they were and as they are and as they revisit the painful landscape of Vietnam, Brown reveals how the war took much more from them than their bodies. The damage is emotional, spiritual, and mental (as Braiden says at one point, "It do something to you to kill another person. It ain't no dog lying there. Somebody. A person, talk like you, eat like you, got a mind like you. Got a soul like you . . . You look in somebody's eyes, then kill him, you remember them eyes. You remember that you was the last thing he seen.") The novel also reflects how it was the poor and, in particular, the black soldiers who were asked to give the most and expect nothing in return--not even valid reasons for fighting. Brown's writing is simple, direct, and often bitingly funny when you least expect it. He knew how to capture the cadences and culture of working class Americans always one paycheck away from the brink of poverty and he always did so with the utmost respect, never denegrating or lessening their value to American society. When Brown died, we lost one of the finest writers of the American South and this novel is a testament to his gifts.
Polaris- on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Difficult to find words to express how much this short novel moved me...Larry Brown has a way with his writing that takes you right under the skin of his characters. They are so vivid and believable. Dirty Work's two main protagonists are both physically and mentally scarred Vietnam veterans who share adjoining beds in a VA hospital 22 years after their war. Both Mississippians, limbless Braiden is black and faceless Walter is white. Both are from poor and troubled backgrounds. They find rare solace in their ability to confide in each other, something that their lives have usually been barred from.The book is entirely written in the first person with short, punchy, and more or less alternate chapters in the voice of each man - something that I very quickly adjusted to after a tricky opening dozen or so pages... This book is very powerful and deeply affecting, and I'm pretty sure I will return to it again. The subject it addresses is as relevant today as it ever was - "I know where you been, man. I've decided it's all the same. it's just the places and the reasons that change. Or maybe just the enemy. Hell. Let's open us another beer."
JRoulette on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A modern day masterpiece. Think Dalton Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun meets One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and you'd be in the ballpark. I believe this and Joe are Brown's greatest novels. This hooked me for life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We are reading this book for book club. I highly recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago