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A Miracle of Catfish

By Larry Brown

Larry Brown has been a force in American literature since taking critics by storm with his debut collection, Facing the Music, in 1988. His subsequent work—five novels, another story collection, and two books of nonfiction—continued to bring extraordinary praise and national attention to the writer New York Newsday called a "master."

In November 2004, Brown sent the nearly completed manuscript of his sixth novel to his literary agent. A week later, he died of a massive heart attack. He was fifty-three years old.

A Miracle of Catfish is that novel. Brown's trademarks—his raw detail, pared-down prose, and characters under siege—are all here.

This beautiful, heartbreaking anthem to the writer's own North Mississippi land and the hard-working, hard-loving, hard-losing men it spawns is the story of one year in the lives of five characters—an old farmer with a new pond he wants stocked with baby catfish; a bankrupt fish pond stocker who secretly releases his forty-pound brood catfish into the farmer's pond; a little boy from the trailer home across the road who inadvertently hooks the behemoth catfish; the boy's inept father; and a former convict down the road who kills a second time to save his daughter.

That Larry Brown died so young, and before he could see A Miracle of Catfish published, is a tragedy. That he had time to enrich the legacy of his work with this remarkable book is a blessing.

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Larry Brown

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Review quotes
“A Southern noir stylist publishes his best work. . . . When the novelist Larry Brown died in November 2004, the nation lost an irreplaceable literary voice. Spare, bluesy, and grimly beautiful, his books mapped the rough contours of life in his native north Mississippi. . . . His best work may have been A Miracle of Catfish. . . . Miracle is classic Larry, gritty and unflinching, with a wide-as-an-interstate streak of mischief running through its center. . . . [Brown is] a fierce and natural writer, a once-in-a-lifetime comet of big, bad, raw talent.”
Men's Journal
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Number of pages
Publication date
March 20, 2007