By the time he received the Pulitzer Prize in 1996, New York Times correspondent
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.
Synopses & Reviews
A haunting memoir about growing up dirt-poor in the Alabama hills and about moving on but never really being able to leave. The extraordinary gifts for evocation and insight and the stunning talent for story-telling that earned Rick Bragg a Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 1996 are here brought to bear on the wrenching story of his own family's life. It is the story of a war-haunted, hard-drinking father and a strong-willed, loving mother who struggled to protect her sons from the effects of poverty and ignorance that had constricted her own life. It is the story of the life Bragg was able to carve out for himself on the strength of his mother's encouragement and belief. And it is the story of his attempts to both atone for and avenge the mistakes and cruelties of his past. All Over but the Shoutin' is a gripping account of people struggling to make sense and solidity of lifes capricious promises. A classic piece of Americana, it is made vividly, movingly particular by Rick Bragg's searching vision, generous humor, and richly nuanced voice.
"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
About the Author
Rick Bragg is a national correspondent for the New York Times. He is based in Atlanta, Georgia.