Kate Wilson
February 04, 1994 AT 05:00 AM EST

On Fire is a wonderful book about Brown’s life as a fireman is really a basketful of word snapshots. Click — a nightmare image in front of a blazing building: ”The man on the ground is smoking. I don’t mean smoking a cigarette. I mean the man is smoking.” Click — Brown muses on how to get his dog, Sam, to sire puppies: ”Maybe a beagle with pretty eyes .We could fix them a little candlelit dinner in the carport, buy some of that good Alpo.” Brown rummages through 17 years of his life, telling stories, some only a paragraph long, about family, job, animals (”Wild coons are like five handfuls of razor blades when they’re fighting”). The temptation to turn just one more page, examine just one more quirk from his personal flea market, is irresistible. A+

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