Read Joe by Larry Brown Online


“Brilliant . . . Larry Brown has slapped his own fresh tattoo on the big right arm of Southern Lit.” —The Washington Post Book WorldNow a major motion picture starring Nicolas Cage, directed by David Gordon Green. Joe Ransom is a hard-drinking ex-con pushing fifty who just won’t slow down--not in his pickup, not with a gun, and certainly not with women. Gary Jones estimate“Brilliant . . . Larry Brown has slapped his own fresh tattoo on the big right arm of Southern Lit.” —The Washington Post Book WorldNow a major motion picture starring Nicolas Cage, directed by David Gordon Green. Joe Ransom is a hard-drinking ex-con pushing fifty who just won’t slow down--not in his pickup, not with a gun, and certainly not with women. Gary Jones estimates his own age to be about fifteen. Born luckless, he is the son of a hopeless, homeless wandering family, and he’s desperate for a way out. When their paths cross, Joe offers him a chance just as his own chances have dwindled to almost nothing. Together they follow a twisting map to redemption--or ruin....

Title : Joe
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781565124134
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 368 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Joe Reviews

  • PirateSteve
    2019-03-07 01:58

    Sociologist could use Larry Brown's "Joe" as a Southeastern study journal. Larry knew these people, heart and soul. The goodness of heart in some and the evil souls of others. "Joe" tells a gripping story. You would not want Joe in your family. He is only gonna let you down. Would you want Joe as your friend? Good choice if you do. Through thick or thin, Joe is there for his friends. Doesn't matter your station in life, if you're Joe's friend then he'll celebrate the good times with you and he is just as quick to help you in the bad times. Bet on Joe's friendship like a good hand in cards... He's all in. Now if you find yourself on Joe's bad side. If Joe is your enemy, you've got two choices... make amends or kiss your ass goodbye.

  • Rebecca McNutt
    2019-03-13 01:54

    I think Joe is going to become a classic as time goes on for many reasons, and its striking imagery, human honesty and relatable plot make it one of the best I've read so far this year.

  • Judy Vasseur
    2019-03-02 07:41

    Hell fire! Nothing to do? Have you a cold beer and a double banana moon pie. Slip your pistol under the seat, roll the window down and cruise through a hot Mississippi night in your dented pick-up.Ants, bees, the bugs of summer, keyed-up guard dogs, coons, snakes, are all characters as vivid as the humans in this beautifully written novel. The major characters are inanimate: liquor and firearms.Rambunctiousness is one thing, pure evil another.There is a caste-system in this country. Those that have no vehicle are on the bottom rung, invisible. You get a view here of destitution so extreme that one family shown here has dropped through a crack and they live in another ( non driving ) dimension.the view from a bench seat at 60 miles an hour is quite different from a muddy high-way shoulder among discarded beer cans miles from nothing.All the men in this novel drink heavily even as they simultaneously piss it out the other end. Joe digs out a bullet from his own biceps, puts band-aids on his 4 bullet wounds, then goes out gambling. I have to admire that optimism.The soul of this novel is the growing relationship between Joe, a 44 year old seasoned, hard working, hard fighting, hard drinking man who has seen the inside of the slammer more than once and Gary, a 15 year old painfully innocent and honest boy intent on improving his situation, who has never seen a toothbrush.Sometimes it seemed that the boy didn't know a lot of things a boy his age should know. They'd been driving by the Rock Ridge Colored Church one day back in the spring and the boy had asked him who lived in that big white house.I enjoyed the peripherals: the war veteran John Coleman and his gas station and general store, his itchy scalp where the shrapnel still lies and his unspoken desire to have had children.You might think these walking wounded are out looking for a war to fight. They might fight each other over various grievances or money but I don't think they fight out of boredom or for no reason.They reach their potential when they take on evil in the form of a selfish greedy snake-like daddy that shoplifts, murders, steals food from the mouths of his family, stinks like dead chickens and abuses children.Like you another beer?

  • Horace Derwent
    2019-03-13 00:34

    Yes, Larry Brown at his best, and the best book of 1991(awarded by Publisher's Weekly and National Book Association)The author no more told us a simple story about simple people with a matter of how good defeats evilThat man and that boy, them meets at a cross-road somewhere in Deep South. He sees a young he when he sees him, and he's trudging his rut, and he ain't wanna see him doin' this. Both of them cud be saved by each other, and both of them cud get to Hell if one of them two goes awry. But usually things ain't work out that way, things often go sour, and one of them two might get ruined or worse. So him stands out and wards off the odds for him, and him chooses to destroy himself to salvate himThat's all I've learnt from reading this book :)I wrote this for thanking the late Larry Brown(to be continued)

  • Jamie
    2019-03-07 03:31

    Fay, Father and Son, Joe. That’s the current order, liable to change at any time. Except I can’t imagine an order where Fay wouldn’t be first. I’m glad to know that when she walks out of the story in Joe, she walks right into her own.

  • Lou
    2019-03-07 01:00

    This story deals with characters that you may have read about before in other southern tales, ones that you may have seen in town, your local, but had never got to know more of.The author deals with big problems in families and communities, a tale dealing with lesser than over the picket fence dream family, you get another slice of ones not quite living that dream but finding their way through the pitfalls and making decisions to make a change.This story revolves around three men, three generations, three hearts.The youngest being the fifteen year old Gary, he is a hard worker and a good heart trying to see through the wrongs that have hit his path, someone who learned of the smell of Whiskey early in his life, hated the presence of it in his fathers life.Joe, in the middle of the three ages, another hard worker and a kind heart but also a troubled one, through mistakes, bad choices and a spiralling life.Joe sees in Gary someone he hopes to help out and prevent from travelling darker roads.Wade Jones the oldest, the father of Gary, has a wicked heart that maybe once had some goodness, but readers may feel doubt in him ever even possessing that. Everything serves the bottle, every penny earned from Gary's sweat and toil to serve his bottle, the family to starve and drift so that his bottle be served. This man has no limits to what he would do to see the emptying of a bottle, he is the real bad guy of the tale, the wicked heart.The main character Gary, is what has you in the story.The author has you wanting to know of what his becoming will be and hooked in the narrative.The great writing has you immersed in the momentum and has you seeing great words in motion, scenes unfolding like you are there in visceral pace at times.This my first to read of Larry Brown’s and did so now due to the movie adaption, that was longer than i had planned considering Frank Bill’s recommendation to this novel back when i hosted in an interview with him here>> Brown in my mind can be considered a writer up there with writers who have crafted memorable and likeable southern characters like that of the great William Faulkner and the living Cormac McCarthy, alongside writers like Daniel Woodrell, Frank Bill, Donald Ray Pollock, and many others.Some excerpts that show you his skill.“It was that part of the evening when the sun has gone but daylight still remains. the whippoorwills called to each other and moved about, and the choir of frogs had assembled in the ditches to sing their melancholy songs. bats scurried overhead, swift and gone in the gathering dusk. the boy didn’t know where he and his family were, other than one name: Mississippi. ”‘Late that night the rain fell thinly in the streets around the square, slashes of water streaming diagonally in the air above the wet sidewalks. passing cars sprayed it up from their wheels, and the blooming taillights spread a weak red glow across the pavement as the hum of their engines quietly receded into a night no lonelier than any other. The stained marble solider raised in tribute to a long dead and vanquished army went on with his charge, the tip of his bayonet broken off by tree primers, his epaulets covered with pigeon droppings. Easing up to the square in uncertain caution came a junk mobile, replete with inner-tube strips hung from the bumpers and decals on the fenders and wired dogs’ heads wagging on the back shelf, the windows rolled tightly on the skull-bursting music screaming to be loosed from within. Untagged, un-inspected, unmuffled, its gutted iron bowels hung low and scraped upon the street, un-pinioned at last by rusty coat hangers, a dying shower of sparks flowing in brilliant orange bits. No tail-lights glimmered from this derelict vehicle, no red flash of brakes as it pulled to a stop. It inched forward in jerks, low on transmission fluid. the old man watched these things. later that night he was thrown in jail."The movie was not able to capture what Joe was feeling in this moment."As she put it in a drawer under the counter, the Doberman (in the movie an Alsatian) walked out of the hall and stood looking at him. Coal black, a chain of silver, sleek and lithely muscled, and the lips lifting ever so slowly from the white teeth that lined his mouth. The dog hate him, had always hated him, ever since he was a puppy. He wished for the pistol under the seat with a slight chilling of his blood and felt that something that hated so strongly for so little ought not be allowed to hate anymore. The dog stood ravenous and slobbering on the bright yellow linoleum, the flanks tense and the brown eyes not blinking. Joe looked into the animal’s eyes and the eyes looked back with a deep and yearning hatred."

  • Robert
    2019-03-12 06:37

    You might be a redneck if you read this novel, and you feel as though you’ve met a few of your kin. You might be a redneck if you read between these pages, and you feel like you’re coming home. You might be a redneck if words like y’all and fixin’ to flow freely from your lips. You might be a redneck if JOE makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. You might be a redneck if you’re building relations with your second cousin on your mama’s side. You might be a redneck if you whistle between the gaps of your missing teeth. You might be a redneck if soda pop is your favorite breakfast beverage.This novel helped me get reacquainted with my southern side, where the tea is always sweet, the hollers are narrow enough that you pinch your gut around the turns, the neighbors greet one another in the morning, where the gathering spots are the local Wal-Mart and Burger King and, where the widest road is a four-lane highway. Where an entire town gets all up in your business and “Country Roads” is your state’s unofficial song. Yes, I’m talking about West By God Virginia, which ain’t all that different from the heartland of Mississippi. At least according to the latest poll where we’re ranked as the two most obese states.So, yes, one could make the argument that I already had a predisposition to like this novel, and I’d agree with you. But Larry Brown knows how to spin a tale on the back roads, conjuring up dirt and dust, and a voice that sang me to sleep in a country twang where the syllables were extended on account of them being important words, and y’all don’t want to miss ’em the first go round.If you missed this book the first go round, as I’m willing to bet a few of ya might’a done, you’d better find that horse and saddle up and don’t forget your spurs, in case this particular colt decides to shove you off.Cross-posted at Robert's Reads

  • Jim Marshall
    2019-03-25 04:41

    I want to recommend this book, but I’m not sure of the language I can use to praise it or of the audience I could praise it to. It is a dark, violent, painful book centered on poor, white, trailer-dwelling people in contemporary, rural Mississippi. One of the main characters, Gary, is fifteen years old and has to be taught how to brush his teeth by a whore who has been bought for him by Joe, other main character, who makes a living by driving a team of black men to poison first growth scrub trees in isolated woods. Joe drinks whiskey for breakfast, chain smokes, keeps a gun beneath the front seat of his pick up, gets in fist fights with police officers on a regular basis, has spent three years in a penitentiary, and becomes the only caring adult in Gary’s young life. Gary has never been to school, does not know how to read, has wandered with his family across the poorest states of the south picking crops, while losing three siblings to careless death or even more careless abandonment. Gary’s father beats him regularly, takes whatever money Gary is able to make, and ends by selling his own daughter to two men for $30 each. Taken together, the characters make Faulkner’s Snopes family look like the Cleavers, and I would understand if readers pulled away from the book after 20 or 30 pages simply because the stench and the naked, ragged lives of the people Brown shows us are almost too much to bear. And yet. There is an austere dignity, naïve courage, and a shy tenderness about the relationship between Joe and Gary. Though we would be sorely tempted to turn away from them if we met them in real life, Brown makes us turn toward them, with a language like raw blues and a sympathy that makes them something much more than wrong. We find parts of ourselves in them, despite our best efforts to deny it, and the experience of identifying with characters so alien to us may be the most powerful effect a story can provide. There are traces of Faulkner and Jim Harrison and Cormac McCarthy here, and the brutal naturalism of the landscape would make Frank Norris and Stephen Crane sit up and take notice. It wasn’t an easy or comfortable read, but it’s not one I’m likely to forget.

  • Robert Blumenthal
    2019-03-16 07:40

    This is a book of Southern literature. I have seen many comparisons between this author and William Faulkner. I have read but a short story of Faulkner's, so I am not that aware of his writing. This book is a gritty, character-driven story of an alcoholic ex-con and the 15-year old boy he somewhat takes under his wing. The boy is living with a total bastard of a father, also an alcoholic, along with his mother and two sisters in a decrepit, abandoned shack in the woods of Mississippi. He meets Joe by convincing him to give him a job, showing himself to be a hard worker and responsible individual, amazing considering where he came from.What makes this book so fascinating to me is the central character Joe. He is both a unapologetic drunk, somewhat violent with very little tolerance for the law. And yet, there is a side to him that is about as good as a person can be. His concern for the boy and his family, as well as the rest of his workers, is beyond reproach. And he has a basic moral code that he sticks very closely to, even if it involves murder and assault. The author clearly distinguishes between a good murder and a bad one. To sum him up, his ex-wife has a deep seated love and respect for him, but she surely cannot live with him.There's not a compelling plot, though there are some exciting moments. It is more of a character study, most of them being crusty, rural southerners. There's a lot of drinking, gambling, uncommitted sexual encounters. And yet there is a real sense of right and wrong and distinguishing between the two.

  • Shaun
    2019-03-17 08:35

    I thought this was good, but not as good as Father and Son.Brown is/was a talented writer, whose strength seems to be in the simplicity of his language and the powerful images his writing elicits in the reader's mind. It just goes to show, a really good writer can throw away his thesaurus and still create beautiful and literary prose.Brown is also a master at creating a subtle sense of tension and feeling of hopelessness, which is a hallmark of Southern Gothic Fiction...the life sucks and then you die view of the world. I think what draws fans of the genre, though, is the knowledge that life sucks a lot more for some than others. There's something sobering and, at times, strangely satisfying about confronting just how unfair and cruel life can be.Would recommend this to fans of the genre. Brown is certainly up there with the William Gay's and Ron Rash's of our day and age and may even approach legends like Flannery O'Connor and Erskine Caldwell.

  • Beverly
    2019-03-01 02:53

    What can I say? I LOVE Larry Brown. I cannot be the least bit rational or objective. I see his flaws (though they be of the sort I wish I could cultivate in my own work) and I don't mindthat the descriptions are sometimes overlong, the sentiment sometimes just a tad old fashioned. This was a writer with a heart as huge as the world. His authority to tell it like he sees it, and hang the consequences, makes for the cleanest and most heart rending prose I can think of. I get lost in his realities of poor, country people, drunks and laborers, the small town, woodsy characters who have all of mankind's quirks and depths, even when they don't have a clue about how to live their lives. Brown, to me, is like the soul of writing. He is a poet in prose's clothing; a prophet spitting chewing tobacco. I love him.

  • Sean
    2019-03-09 02:47

    Southern-fried gothic. Grab a bourbon, put your car up on blocks, get depressed, and read this book. Not bad 'tall.

  • Millard Johnson
    2019-03-05 03:53

    If you like "earthy" southern books you may like Joe, or anything by Larry Brown. If you like vivid living characters, you will probably like Joe. If you like powerful minimalist writing, you will probably like Joe. You get the point!I am both a writer and a reader. Larry Brown is, for me, among the top 5 most important writers of the 20th century -- along with Raymond Carver, John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway. Oddly, I made my book club read Joe and most of them did not like it -- so this kind of book is not for everyone.

  • Mitch Duckworth
    2019-03-01 03:01

    I’ve read some wonderful books this year, including books by some of my favorite writers, such as, Ian McEwan, Michael Chabon, Alice Munro, Junot Diaz, Gillian Flynn, Joyce Carol Oates, Dennis Lehane, Larry McMurtry, Elmore Leonard, and Kate Atkinson, and what surprises me most about Larry Brown, author of JOE, is that by virtue of that one book he has vaulted from complete obscurity within my admittedly very limited awareness of contemporary ‘greats’ to very near the tippy-top sharp end of the list. OMG, my admiration for the man is boundless. He is lost to us at far too young an age, but his books remain, and if I do not suffer a similar fate, I will read them all before I pass.There are a number of very good reviews of JOE available and maybe I will add my superfluous effort to them in the future, but time does not permit now. I can only say, if you've read JOE and did not find it exceptional, you probably needn't bother with anything else I have to say . . . EVER. Our perspectives may not intersect and might never again merge, unless you too love Cormac McCarthy and maybe one or more of the folks in the first paragraph above—or other unnamed but equally cherished writers upon whom we can agree—and in that case, I humbly suggest you revisit Larry Brown.

  • sappho_reader
    2019-02-28 06:47

    This is not a happy story at all but if you’re a fan of grit lit and the dirty south you will probably enjoy this book as much as I did. In a rural Mississippi town men drive old pickup trucks drinking warm beer and whiskey while chain smoking. Coons, wasps nests, opossums, copperheads and bugs are in abundance. The air is hot and there is little relief from the glaring sun. The story centers around the unlikely friendship between Joe and Gary, but the character who really caught my attention was Gary’s father Wade who is probably the most vile and disgusting man I have read in some time. There is not one ounce of good inside of him and he is rotten to the core. I felt Larry Brown did a wonderful job bringing this character to life in all his non glory. Some of his shenanigans were funny while others were just repulsive. The ending of the book was ambiguous but I let my imagination run wild and I prayed that Wade met his fate in the proper manner.

  • Rick
    2019-03-08 03:49

    A quick, engrossing, and yet very challenging read. Challenging, not in the difficulty of its prose, but in the stark reality portrayed by its elegantly simple prose. Excruciatingly painful to see how hard some people strive to do right and how effortlessly other people slip into total depravity. Also poignantly portrays people's perceived powerlessness to alter what appears to be their pre-ordained path. I found myself wanting to reach through the pages of this book, into the lives of those portrayed within, and fix things. But, honestly, they were simply too broken.

  • Kirk Smith
    2019-02-22 00:55

    Haywire, messed up 50 yr. olds are just not an exotic enough or engaging enough subject for me. One point deducted, credit given for flawless spare style.Reading this, some of the better parts were the descriptions that would appeal to anyone with some rural background. The rich earth smell of dirt turned behind a plow. The surprising amount of powder dry dust that collects in a house abandoned for fifty years. A teaming wasps nest in a sun baked attic. There are hundreds of those experiences both good and bad that will take you to the country. Grifter families and the dirt poor. A few in this book lived better than just surviving. Joe exhibited admirable traits with his inclination to help and foster the less fortunate that cross his path. And Joe, unlike many in Southern literature holds a job. While I enjoyed riding with Joe, working hard by day, drinking hard both day and night, and generally being an easy target for local law enforcement, I kept looking for anything to shock me, to move me, or to lead me to hope for real change. Joe makes me uncomfortable, he is my neighbor, or my cousin, and Brown made him a little too real. Oh, and I guess Joe never heard that alcohol is a depressant. So slip me some self-deprecating humor, make me laugh or make me cry, disgust me maybe, but please don't wake me for another hungover day working to barely survive. Enough of this abusive realism, I think I'll just stay home and keep company with my bottle of Old Crow. I've got Fay, Father & Son, and A Miracle of Catfish still to go before I choose a favorite. Thanks for the legacy Mister Brown.

  • James
    2019-03-04 02:40

    Wow. I read Dirty Work - hoping for the Larry Brown that had written Catfish, but that wasn't what I got. But I think Dirty was an aberration, because it seems that Brown has fallen into the same Joyce/Pynchon/etc theory of mine: great artists who have such refined and focused thoughts and commentaries, that they basically write a proof of concept novel, and spend the rest of their careers fleshing out those themes into larger tour's de force.So the analogy is that we're throwing Joe, Portrait, and Crying into the pot as the early stages of what becomes Catfish, Ulysses, and Gravity's.Joe was the Larry Brown I fell in love with during Catfish, and though in general I feel that these type of writers need only be read once, it was a pleasure to read another Brown like this.

  • David
    2019-03-03 07:55

    I can't get enough of Larry Brown's books; "sad and beautiful" does not do justice to the very real, stark and poetic stories he tells. To simply call his work "Southern" or "Faulkneresque" oversimplifies the originality of his gifts as a writer. His is really a genre unto itself. If you haven't read any of Brown's work, Joe is a great place to start. Depressing as hell, sure, but, like a great sad song (Mark Lanegan, anyone?), tanscendently moving, indelibly affecting and ultimately uplifing through the sheer power of artful storytelling. The simplicity and power of his words are more important than the plot itself. His books, this one perhaps more so than any other, make me want to drop everything and write, paint, make music, get to a higher plane.

  • Larry Bassett
    2019-03-03 01:49

    A book about a sorry bunchI listen to this as an audible book. I am not sure what to say about Joe and his world of white trash. It is a foreign world to me but Larry Brown presents at convincingly in his writing.

  • B. R. Reed
    2019-02-26 00:34

    I wasn't sure whether I'd like this book. I did, I liked it very much. Who is Joe? Joe Ransom is a 43 yr old good ol boy who lives and works just south of Oxford, MS. He drinks, gambles and chases women but he also works, he makes his own way in the world. Joe is not gonna have a 401(k) or a health care plan, and he's not gonna be in church on Sunday morning. He makes a little extra money gambling and he's a bookie or collects for one. He also does contract work for Weyerhaeuser by "deadnin timber." He and his work crew poison and kill unwanted trees and replace same with pine sprouts. (I assume it's legal.) Joe starts early in the morning (4:30am) with coffee (maybe a little whiskey too) and is on the phone first thing trying to round up his workers. Joe did about two yrs in the state pen for assault and is recently divorced. He still cares much for his ex. He keeps iced-down beer in a cooler in his truck and a bottle of whiskey and a .25 cal. pistol under his front seat. Joe is one of these guys with tons of energy and pretty much works/plays nonstop. He is the kind of man you find in small towns all across America, not just Mississippi. On the other hand, we have Wade Jones, a complete reprobate who drifts from state to state with his family (wife and three children). They find and squat in an old and abandoned cabin near where Joe is working. Wade's 15-16 yr old son, Gary, wants to work and he gets a job with Joe's crew. A friendship develops between Joe and Gary. There are a lot of interesting and entertaining scenes woven into the story. There is a real nice old man (Coleman, a WW II vet full of shrapnel) who runs the general store where the work crews, the Wade family and others re-supply with vienna sausages, sardines, crackers, moon-pies, Coca-Cola and Old Milwaukee. One of the most enjoyable things about the book is the HUMOR. One of Joe's buddies has his boat about 3/4 full of empty beer cans, Joe's gambling buddies (3 brothers) are clueless on how to dress out a deer, Joe gets into a gunfight early on with some fool (like the Wild West), Joe's dog (named just "dog") has an encounter with a Doberman at a sleazy whorehouse and on and on. Warning: You will not like Wade Jones, a Bob Ewell type. He is about as despicable of a human being that you'll ever find in a book. He beats his wife and children, he pimps out his daughters, he's a thief, he's a murderer (past & present) and he is a belligerent and hateful drunk. You can smell him coming and he always seems to slink away from trouble. The writer of this book is Larry Brown (1951-2004). Brown was from the Oxford area himself. He read Faulkner, McCarthy, O'Connor, Bukowski and many others. However, one of the smartest things he did as a writer (other than working hard at it) was to stay clear of imitation. He wrote about what he knew in clear, declarative sentences, however, I think it is very good prose and his descriptions are complete w/o being flowery. He captures the local dialect perfectly and he knows his subject matter well. He keeps you interested in his characters and he tells a good story. This book might not be for the faint of heart, but if you don't mind some rather gritty scenes I think you'll enjoy it. I now understand why Larry Brown has been a big hit down south. Brown and the folks he wrote about were the kind of people who "were raised on shotgun" and Brown captures the color of these people. It's too bad we lost him so soon.

  • James Aura
    2019-03-16 00:51

    'Joe' was a memorable, tough, earthy tale, told by a author who had a remarkable handle on the human condition. So sorry we lost Larry Brown so soon. I probably will not watch the movie because somehow I doubt the cinematic version can do justice to the word-painting in this novel.

  • Donna Everhart
    2019-02-22 05:00

    I really, make that REALLY liked this book. Larry Brown's Joe Ransom is captured as a hard edged, ex-convict who drinks, (and drives!!), smokes way too much, is his own man, who doesn't like to be told what to do. A man's man is the way I saw him. The way Brown writes the story is almost like a series of little vignettes, but if you keep going (and you can't help but turn the pages) you'll see how it all ties together. There are some incidents that I think could have been excluded - where Joe gets shot and operates on himself to remove the slugs. Um, now, I know he'd been drinking and all, but cutting into muscle? That required just a bit too much suspension of belief, but that's okay, I forgive LB anyway b/c I do love his writing. Gary Jones is "the boy" referenced sometimes as Gary, sometimes as "the boy" that Joe Ransom takes under his wing. Every single thing about Gary Jones is believable, as well as the life his parents live along with his two sisters - who are smaller characters in the story, although there is one incident with the younger sister towards the end.The "old man" or Wade Jones is also a very believable character, and LB wrote about him in such a way that I wished I could have reached into the pages at different points in time just to slap him for the way he treated his family. He was the epitome of a real loser.The book was published about 20 years ago, but in my opinion it is a story that still resonates today. Don't expect sweet with this story. Expect to meet dirt poor, real people who are only trying to survive.

  • Laura
    2019-03-07 07:36

    Amazing Writing, Frustrating Story!I will read this book again. Someday. The writing is beautiful and descriptive, the characters are raw and real, but right now I am reeling from the ending! summarizes Joe in this way: "Nearing fifty, Joe Ransom won't slow down....But all the fast living in Mississippi won't fill the hunger Joe can't name. At fifteen, Gary Jones is already slipping through the cracks. Part of a hopeless, homeless wandering family, he's desperate for a way out. He finds it in Joe. Together they follow a twisting map to redemption-or ruin...."After reading this blurb, perhaps I focused too much on the word "redemption." My mistake.I will definitely read this book again and encourage others to read it. First, I want to discuss this novel with someone. Second, I enjoyed reading about familiar Mississippi towns and reading Southern dialect. Finally, Brown's writing is lovely and real. I thought I would be ill while I read about Joe removing a bullet fragment from his arm, for instance. I read through this novel so quickly; I would like to read it a second time and really think about it. And I will definitely read other books by this author in the future. after I get over this one. Please read this novel and share your thoughts.

  • Donna
    2019-02-23 07:47

    This was a difficult book to read. It was beyond sad how most of the characters in it lived. The majority of them were not looking to rise above their squalid circumstances since there didn't seem to be any hope of them doing so for one reason or another, their problems beyond their control due to things such as alcoholism, despair, lack of education, and family history. But the fact is, all the ugliness in this book was made nearly beautiful by the simple and elegant prose that turned mud, puke, piss, and depravity into something poetic, just another part of the natural landscape these characters traversed. This book was a quick read due to the quality of the writing which was highly descriptive, but never overwhelmingly so. It truly engaged my senses. And it kept me turning the pages, wondering what would happen to these characters by the end, the ending surprisingly vague and somewhat ambiguous, depending upon whether or not you are an optimist. I would recommend it as a book club selection and for any reader in need of appreciating his own set of circumstances.

  • Angi Hurst
    2019-02-24 05:46

    I flew through this book. I couldn't stop reading. I missed important details because I couldn't freaking wait to read the next part. Larry Brown's character development is spectacular. I couldn't believe how much I hated Wade as I was reading it, and how much I loved Gary and Joe. I was getting really close to the end, and I actually started getting worried because I thought that there was no way he was going to be able wrap the story up so that I felt satisfied by the end...there was so much going on. Yet he totally pulled it off. I loved it. My scale (since the speed of my reading is directly proportional to how well I like the book): 1 - couldn't get through it 2 - actually got through it but it took months 3 - read it fairly consistently on the train (took a couple of months) 4 - felt compelled to read while on vacation (and/or took about a month) 5 - read every chance I got (two weeks or less)

  • Josh
    2019-02-22 07:45

    What a great little messed up tale. If you've ever felt like you were taking one step forward to take three steps back then you have only a taste of what this book is all about. At several points, you catch yourself thinking things are looking up for the folks that need to catch a break......not so fast; only a brief respite to allow reality an opportunity to recharge its batteries. Character development is outstanding, reads quickly, and the wonderful flow that avoids the pitfalls often spliced into simple plots like this one. Brown does a great job doling out bits of the past life and background a little at a time, saving some of the most riveting pieces of the puzzle until the very end. Not a refreshing read, but who reads a book described as this one for motivation anyhow?

  • Roxy
    2019-03-18 00:39

    Brown's depiction of a dirt-poor family in rural Mississippi is Faulkner-ish, dark and deeply sad, and around every corner was another hellish situation that could only be borne by beer and whiskey.

  • Clayton Brannon
    2019-03-22 00:34

    A must read.

  • Albert
    2019-02-24 02:59

    I began my adventures with Larry Brown with his novel Father and Son. It was a stellar beginning to our relationship. Father and Son was raw and shocking and gritty. I have since read Dirty Work, which was quite good, and a collection of short stories. I have long looked forward to his novel, Joe. I found it quite good. Larry Brown creates vivid characters, some of which you like even though you know you probably shouldn’t, and some you love to hate. Joe Ransom is rough around the edges, a functioning alcoholic and prone to violence. But his violence often is logical and at some levels moral, if not justified. Joe is someone who can’t help being who he is, can’t get out of his own way. Ultimately, the novel Joe was good, but not great, because the character and the novel were too predictable and the emotions revealed were too basic. I still have Brown’s novel, Fay, yet to read. I hear it is excellent. You are introduced to the character Fay in the novel Joe, and she is unforgettable even in her brief and very peripheral role.