I’d never heard of Rick Bragg. That is until one of my book clubs recommended we read, All Over But The Shoutin’ for our January 2015 meeting. You think you read a lot, but, no, never enough, and to miss Bragg would be a great loss. A good old boy born on the Alabama/Georgia line, his writing ultimately took him beyond the ‘came from nothin, going nowhere,’ South. All Over is a memoir of extraordinary proportions chronicling not only Bragg, and ‘his people,’ but observations of a south that include coon dogs and outhouses, fat back, and Bear Bryant.
Bragg’s career began as a sports writer, won a Pulitzer Price for his work at The New York Times. Shouting’ includes stories about writing as a foreign correspondent, about Haiti, the Oklahoma bombing, and always about the poor, over-looked, people that he tries to elevate, bringing dignity to their stories. He has changed lives through his writing. Shoutin is an amazing story.
Bragg now teaches writing in the U. of Alabama Journalism School and is widely published. Google him, take your pick of things to read about him, and spend time with a REAL storyteller. Bragg is another authentic southern voice the likes of Pat Conroy, and Doug Marlette’s (earlier posts). His writing is lyrical, with the same fierce, deep love of a region where his people did the cleaning and ironing for the gentile folks that live on the hill. I am tempted to cut and paste the entire book as an example of his writing, but how about the opening lines to the Prologue.
“I used to stand amazed and watch the redbirds fight. They would flash and flutter like scraps of burnings rags through a sky unbelievably blue, swirling, soaring, plummeting. On the ground they were a blur of feathers, stabbing for each other’s eyes. I have seen grown men stop what they were doing, stop pulling corn or lift their head out from under the hood of a broken-down car, to watch it.”