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All Over but the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg

All Over but the Shoutin'

by Rick Bragg

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1,698414,198 (3.99)97
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I was lucky enough to hear Rick Bragg speak last month at the University where I work. He's so personable, and a natural-born storyteller. I was rather delighted to discover that, as a Californian in a room full of Southerners (I live in Arkansas now), Bragg made several jokes that caused those around me to howl with laughter, while I sat there unsure of what just happened. It really cemented how different the South really is from everywhere else in the U.S., for good or bad. Afterwards, when it was my turn to meet Bragg at the book signing, he immediately caught on that I was not from around here. I told him I was from the Bay Area of California, but my grandma lived "up the road a ways" (i.e., 20 minutes down I-40), which was part of the reason I took the job in the first place. He smiled and simply said "Then you're home. As long as you have family near, you're home." I walked back to my apartment that night clutching his book to my chest and smiling like a loon. I started reading it right away.

Bragg's sincerity, charm, and wit - on full display during his talk - is doubly prevalent in his memoir about growing up in the South. But his memoir is about so much more than that; it's about the people and a place that you can never fully leave, even when you're in another country writing newspaper articles about the horrors you witness. Bragg frames his memoir around his "momma", a strong, sacrificing woman who did not leave her Alabama town until she accompanied Bragg to his Pulitzer Prize dinner (and you best believe I got teary-eyed at that bit).

There's so much to like about this book and I can go on and on about its merits, but instead I'll just encourage everyone to give it a read. I can think of no better way to try to understand what it means to be a Southerner than to read this book. Amazing, heartbreaking, lovely. ( )
  kaylaraeintheway | Apr 19, 2016 |
One of those rare books that put certain things into words that I never could on my own. ( )
  lovelypenny | Feb 4, 2016 |
Bragg is a Pulitzer's prize winner and a brilliant writer. He shares his childhood memories and the story of how he became a successful writer from humble beginnings. A story about overcoming obstacles and reaching goals against all odds. Also, a beautiful account about a boy's devotion to his mother. ( )
  engpunk77 | Aug 14, 2015 |
i loved this book. i'm not from NC but the experience of growing up in my home town was quite the same. It made you laugh and sometimes cry. ( )
  ronaleeh | Jul 18, 2015 |
Although Yankee-born, I have lived in Alabama for nearly half my life and I feel a kinship and loyalty to this State - with all of its beauty and flaws. So that is why I'm quite ashamed that it took me 17 years to read Rick Bragg's memoir of growing up in Calhoun County, Alabama, and his amazing journalism career. We all have books that stick with us, invade our thoughts for many days or months after you've read the last page. This is one of those books for me. I spoke recently with a Journalism graduate from the University of Alabama where Rick Bragg now serves as a Professor of Writing and we debated the tone of Mr. Bragg's memoir. He thought Mr. Bragg was overplaying the "country bumpkin" card. I feel I can pick out a poser and Rick Bragg is not one of them. He feels quite genuine to me. In fact, he talks quite extensively in this book about the struggles he's had throughout his life with that perception of being "less" because he was born and raised as a poor white kid on someone else's land in rural Alabama county. It is actually just that tone that endeared his story to me, and reminded me of just why I love this State and its people so very much (with a few exceptions - of course). Great southern memoir! ( )
  kellifrobinson | Nov 21, 2014 |
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Living on the road my friend/ Was going to keep you free and clean/ Now you wear your skin like iron/ And your breath is hard as kerosene/ You weren't your momma's only boy/ But her favorite one, it seems/ She began to cry when you said goodbye/ Saddled to your dreams
- T. Van Zandt
To my Momma and brothers
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I used to stand amazed and watch the redbirds fight.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679774025, Paperback)

One reason Rick Bragg won a Pulitzer Prize for his feature articles at the New York Times is that he never forgets his roots. When he writes about death and violence in urban slums, Bragg draws on firsthand knowledge of how poverty deforms lives and on his personal belief in the dignity of poor people. His memoir of a hardscrabble Southern youth pays moving tribute to his indomitable mother and struggles to forgive his drunken father. All Over but the Shoutin' is beautifully achieved on both these counts--and many more.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:34 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

This haunting, harrowing, gloriously moving recollection of a life on the American margin is the story of Rick Bragg, who grew up dirt-poor in northeastern Alabama, seemingly destined for either the cotton mills or the penitentiary, and instead became a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The New York Times. It is the story of Bragg's father, a hard-drinking man with a murderous temper and the habit of running out on the people who needed him most. But at the center of this soaring memoir is Bragg's mother, who went eighteen years without a new dress so that her sons could have school clothes and picked other people's cotton so that her children wouldn't have to live on welfare alone. Evoking these lives--and the country that shaped and nourished them--with artistry, honesty, and compassion, Rick Bragg brings home the love and suffering that lie at the heart of every family. The result is unforgettable.… (more)

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