The House on Brown Street

978-1-62288-919-8 Paperback
6 x 9 in
140 pp.
Pub Date: 04/01/2021
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Robert Lacy’s The House on Brown Street is a remarkable collection of essays that find Lacy—post-Marine Corps—working in a funeral, interviewing Martin Luther King, going off to the Iowa Writers Workshop to work with the likes of Kurt Vonnegut, and landing in the cold comfort of place in Minnesota; as one of the book’s epigraphs, by Weldon Kees, notes, “A chilly landscape tightens up the mind.”

Take, then, for example, the chilly landscape of the funeral home where the narrator helps to bury adulterers and the beautiful girl with whom he attended school. Similarly, the landscapes at Iowa Writers Workshop, as described in “The House on Brown Street,” avoids the risk of name-dropping but describes former Marines (Dubus) whose fascination for guns has not subsided, or family men (Vonnegut) who struggled to put food on the table.  The landscape is littered and complicated by cheap whiskey and cheap gin, shooting garbage cans, and “porcelain pretty teenage daughters” who “break half the hearts on the prairie.”  The encounters Lacy has in these various landscapes ultimately lead the narrator and the reader to the conclusion:  “I haven’t wasted my life.”

Published by Stephen F. Austin University Press