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All Over But the Shoutin'by Rick Bragg
Synopses & Reviews
By the time he received the Pulitzer Prize in 1996, New York Times correspondent Rick Bragg had already received nearly every award available to an American journalist, including the American Society of Newspaper Editors Distinguished Writing Award and 31 other national, regional, and state writing awards. The Pulitzer committee cited his "elegantly written stories about contemporary America." This is true. Rick Bragg writes with a lyricism rare in journalism. But the quality that truly sets Bragg apart from his colleagues can only be described as heart. In now classic articles about aging prisoners in Alabama, the sheriff who caught Susan Smith, black Indian Carnival enthusiasts, the Oklahoma City bombing, and countless others, Bragg approaches his subjects with compassion and clear-eyed respect. After reading All Over but the Shoutin' it becomes clear what prompted this "white trash" boy from the Alabama hills to become such a successful adult: his mother. In this celebrated memoir, Bragg recounts his childhood in the rural South, son of an alcoholic and absent father, and Margaret Bragg, his dedicated and "quietly heroic" mother. While this sounds like a formula for a Frank Capra movie, Bragg tells his story with such frank honesty, All Over but the Shoutin' transcends sentimentality and approaches that elusive quality, beauty. No one who reads this book will fail to be moved. Farley, Powells.com
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.
"Searingly honest, beautifully written, All Over but the Shoutin' is perhaps the most courageous thing Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Rick Bragg has ever written. Making his reputation on his "dark gothic" stories of urban riots, community disasters, and Haitian bloodbaths, Bragg has never failed to record the grace and dignity of people who live their lives in the margins. All Over but the Shoutin' is one more such story. But it is braver because the marginal people he gives us are himself, a child of "poor white Southern trash," and his family — an alcoholic, mostly absent father, and an extraordinary mother, quietly heroic in the face of devastating poverty. Bragg looks down the corridors of his past with love, hate, humor, regret, self-doubt, and understanding. In the telling, he may occasionally flinch, but he never turns away." Willie Morris
"Rick Bragg writes like a man on fire. And All Over but the Shoutin' is a work of art. While reading this book, I fell in love with Rick Bragg's mother, Margaret Bragg, a hundred times. I felt like I was reading one of the prophets in the Old Testament when reading parts of this book. I thought of Melville, I thought of Faulkner. Because I love the English language, I knew I was reading one of the best books I've ever read. By explaining his life to the world, Rick Bragg explained part of my life to me. You feel things in every line this man writes. His sentences bleed on you. I wept when the book ended. I never met Rick Bragg in my life, but I called him up and told him he'd written a masterpiece, and I sent flowers to his mother." Pat Conroy
"An absolutely wonderful book." Russell Baker
"In his sad, beautiful, funny and moving memoir, All Over but the Shoutin', Rick Bragg gives us a report from the forgotten heart of 'white trash' America....Bragg is showing us a place we have not seen before, not quite like this. And he is joining an elite group of American writers who have used the literature of childhood to affect our understanding of our society, standing in the tradition of Huck and Tom, Holden Caulfield and Dorothy Allison's Bone Boatwright." Anthony Walton, The New York Times Book Review
"This is a great book: a poem disguised as a memoir, a gift from a son to his mother, a primer on reporting....Language at its loveliest." Entertainment Weekly
"Bragg...has a strong voice and a sweeping style that...is rich, empathetic, and compelling. His memoir is a model of humility combined with pride in one's accomplishments." Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Rick Bragg is a national correspondent for the New York Times. He is based in Atlanta, Georgia.
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