If you re thinking of picking up a Larry Brown book, save this one for last I say Last, because once you start reading Larry Brown, you won t be able to stop until you finish this, his last great book Alas, as so many reviewers have pointed out, Larry Brown is no longer with us His publishers have thankfully taken his last work in progress and published it, for the most part, as is To those of us who love Larry Brown, and cherish his prose, we don t need A Miracle of Catfish to be all spit and polished Nor do we even need a nice and tidy ending All we need is to hear that familiar southern voice in our ears again If only for one last time Like all of Mr Brown s books, I fell in love with the characters in Catfish Larry Brown had a way of making even the least of humanity, extremely interesting and dignified Had he lived to finish it, this would ve been Larry Brown s Masterpiece He might be gone, but he ll live forever in the hearts and bookshelves of his fans. I m a huge fan of Larry Brown I ve read his entire life s published work, and I ve read several of his books multiple times There is perhaps no other author who can so persuasively put the reader in the shoes of his characters, rambling about the deep south in the nuanced, ofttimes beautiful even while being simultaneously poverty stricken and desperate settings of such unique design and singular, stinging oddness It is a strange world that the characters of Brown inhabit, yet it is one that rings with powerful authenticity, which no doubt stems from a lifetime spent in Mississippi.Larry Brown was too young and far too talented to have left this world, when he was still contributing so much to literature A Miracle of Catfish was Brown s final gift to his readers, and it is one for which we should be grateful Though it suffers from some weaknesses, such as the lack of a powerful, punching climax like Fay , for instance , this can be forgiven, considering that he never had the time to complete his drafting, much less the revision of this novel A must read for any fan of Larry Brown, and a fitting sendoff.Larry Brown, you will be missed Thank you for your stories. A Miracle Of Catfish was unfinished when author Larry Brown died unexpectedly Because the book was almost finished, publication of Brown s last offering to his fans was possible The book uses ellipsis to show where editing was done, and though unfinished, includes the notes that Brown left behind as to how he planned to wrap up the novel.In Brown s languid southern prose, he explores the lives of several people living in the quiet, countrified outskirts of a small town Cortez Sharp, a 72 year old man who s wife is disabled, decides to dig out a large pond on his property and stock it with catfish He lives a solitary life, preferring to be left alone with his vegetable patches and herds of cows His daughter Lucinda lives in Atlanta with her boyfriend Albert, who suffers from Tourettes Syndrome Cortez calls Albert The Retard , driving a wedge between him and his only surviving child Cortez carries a dark secret with him, one of horrible proportions.There s Jimmy, a ten year old boy with bad teeth, who lives near Cortez s farm in an old trailer Jimmy struggles with his father s temper, his two half sisters Evelyn and Velma, and his desire to fix the go kart his daddy built for him Jimmy s Daddy known only in the book as Jimmy s Daddy is a typical redneck loser He drives around in his old 55 drinking beer and smoking cigarettes, fights with himself over trying to treat Jimmy better, and has an affair with a woman at the stove factory where he works that turns out bad in pregnancy which threatens his life and marriage to Jonette.And then there s Cleve, an old black man who used to work for Cortez, mean as a polecat, and murderous to boot He s been in prison twice and though he swore he d never go back, he s not quite done committing crimes.Typical of Brown s unhurried and languorous prose, there s lots of smoking, beer drinking, and driving around There s surprises like DUI s, tractor accidents, unwanted pregnancies, affairs, fishing, hunting, and a young boy worried about having puppies.These aren t exactly people you would want for neighbors, but Brown brings them out fully fleshed and alive, and you know there are people out there just like Brown s characters Everyday folk struggling with everyday problems, inner monologues that both repulse and enchant, and scenes that will suck you into the story despite their slowly building climaxes.While I highly recommend Brown s work, I would recommend Joe , Fay , and Father And Son as a warm up to A Miracle Of Catfish , simply because this is an unfinished work and may leave the novice Brown reader feeling flat at the abrupt end It s sad that this is the last time we will hear Brown s voice in the literature world Enjoy I had never read any of Larry Brown s books before so this was an interesting introduction to the very gifted writer He captures the soul of the southern Mississippi region and paints his characters with a very artistic brush It was impossible to put this book down and not spend the whole day on my kindle He makes you feel as though you are right there with these people who you don t really understand and who operate on a whole different level of life than you have ever experienced, but somehow you seem to know and comprehend what is going on Normally, a writer of this type would try to make you feel guilty that you have a different lifestyle than his characters and he would play on the emotions of pity and condoling the characters, but Larry Brown just lays it out with no Political Correctness or guilt trips and tells a plain and simple story So, it is really too bad that Larry left the scene so early because I can just imagine what else might have been produced When I compare this book to Joe, one of his earlier books, the writing in A Miracle of Catfish, has developed a true maturity and flow This is a great read and well deserving of the accolades it has received so far. Before his untimely death in , Larry Brown was hailed as one of the world s greatest living writers With A Miracle of Catfish, the unfinished but largely complete novel Brown left behind, listeners can once again savor his eloquent and unique style This tale of fatherhood, alienation, and loneliness introduces readers to another set of Brown s irresistibly flawed characters Mr Brown wrote some amazing stories This could have been one of his best.If you like in depth character studies and gritty, rural, sometimes want to put thestory down to collect your head with all thats going on, this is for you defies my thought process howauthors weave unrelated happenings into a tight ball of yarn Mr Brown was one ofthe best.New to him or a fan, this won t disappoint.Three stars though because it was unfinished at the time of his passing I thought I readin the preface that the editors tried to emulate his style and based on his notes finish this talebest they could I don think this is a spoiler alert but i apologize if you think I m giving something away.Book doesn t end Serious bummer there But if you ve read his others, certainly read this. I really enjoyed Larry Brown s writing style He writes of rural southerners, characters all He tells the story of a year in their lives by presenting each chapter from one person s perspective in a kind of stream of consciousness The main character, whose name we never know as he is always referred to simply as Jimmy s daddy, is a drunk who is just realizing that his life has been wasted This is not an uplifting book, the characters are deeply flawed, but it is fascinating and, in parts, funny When I began reading, I did not realize that Larry Brown had died before the book was completed The last few chapters that wind up the story are just his notes on what he intended to happen Still, I recommend the book. Larry Brown did it than once write literature He indicated in a speech in 1989 that he knew what it was, and why it is so important, and I believe he knew then that he was writing it books that would stand along side the giants, Faulkner, Hemingway, Steinbeck And considering his background, an uneducated country hick, well, his writing takes your breath away Because Larry Brown, like Hemingway, believed that writing was perseverance and hard work, too much like a little boy to believe he was touched by the gods But we all know better It s than just mechanical,just hard work It has to be a gift from God, but that gift has to be exercised, brought forth I am privileged to have read his last book, and even though I never met him, I miss him like a friend. Another reason to mourn Larry Brown s untimely death is the fact that we will never know just how the lives of the people he created in his final masterpiece would have turned out Would Cortez have become the father little Bobby deserves, replacing the hapless and clueless daddy who can think of no one but himself Would we ever know any about the fish man Perhaps we already know enough about all the living, breathing, all too real characters Larry imagined for us by the time we come to the page where we are left wanting to know about them and about the others living in his imagination, waiting for future books that won t be written It s a rare talent who can keep us interested in and even hopeful about the fates of some pretty unlikeable and apparently unredeemable people Bobby, Bobby s daddy, and Cortez are among Larry Brown s finest creations. Unlike so many authors who leave us with unfinished manuscripts that are then hacked to bits, Brown s last gift to the literary world is a beautiful goodbye He lovingly and wonderfully captures a mundane southern existence without being melodramatic or hysterical, which southern writers occasionally do There is little I can add to the earlier reviews that wasn t wonderfully stated already, except to say that Brown belongs permanently in the company of our greatest southern writers Faulkner, Crews, O Conner, and Toole to name a few heavy hitters If you haven t read Brown, this novel is a wonderful place to start You ll be picking up his entire body of work in no time at all And you ll be that much better for it.