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The Prince of Frogtown Paperback – April 7, 2009


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The Prince of Frogtown + Ava's Man + All over but the Shoutin'
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; First Edition edition (April 7, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400032687
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400032686
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #115,557 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Bragg (All Over but the Shoutin') continues to mine his East Alabama family history for stories, this time focusing on the life of his alcoholic father. Unlike his previous two memoirs, Bragg merges his father's history of severe hardships and simple joys with a tale from the present: his own relationship with his 10-year-old stepson. Bragg crafts flowing sentences that vividly describe the southern Appalachian landscape and ways of life both old and new. The title comes from his father, who grew up in the mill village in Jacksonville, Ala., a dirt-poor neighborhood known as Frogtown, a place where they didn't bother to name the streets, but simply assigned letters. His father's story walks the line between humorous and heartbreaking, mixing tales of tipping over outhouses as a child and stealing an alligator from a roadside show in Florida with the stark tragedies of drunkenness, brawling, dog fighting, chain gangs, meanness and his early death from tuberculosis. Juxtaposed with vignettes about Bragg's stepson, this memoir has great perspective as the reader sees Bragg, the son of a dysfunctional father who grew up very poor, grapple with becoming the father of a modern-day mama's boy. This book, much like his previous two memoirs, is lush with narratives about manhood, fathers and sons, families and the changing face of the rural South. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School—Bragg revisits his Alabama hometown for the third time, following All Over but the Shoutin' (1998) and Ava's Man (2002, both Vintage). He attempts to retell the story of his father, vilified as an abusive drunk in the earlier works, and gives him a more in-depth treatment in an effort to determine what made him the way he was. While by no means sympathetic, the portrayal shows readers a man who had limited choices in education, employment, relationships, and, ultimately, behavior. Before he became an absent father, Charles Bragg was a good son; a handsome man with a sexy car; a fighter and carouser, and eventually a mean, spiteful drunk. Described through recollections of friends and relatives who knew him when, the figure who emerges coped the only way he knew how, with exaggerated machismo, in a small town that he never left for any length of time. The author's realization that he might have been harsh in his previous memoirs comes through as he views his new 10-year-old stepson as soft. Even with all the benefits of education and a Pulitzer Prize, that seed of the immature Bragg tough guy remains. The story unfolds in alternating chapters, shorter ones about the stepson interspersed with longer ones about Charles Bragg. The stepson stories have a '40s-something navel-gazing quality about them that could put off some teens, but most of the book, masterfully told, is the kind of dysfunctional family memoir that teens tend to love.—Jamie Watson, Harford County Public Library, MD
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Quintessentially Rick Bragg!
EB McL
One moment I was laughing out loud and making my husband listen to me read passages from the book...the next I was all but sobbing.
Becky Willis
I finished the book in 2 sessions.
Sara Dixon

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Eric Wilson TOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I first fell in love with Rick Bragg's writing, and his various family members, while reading "All Over But the Shoutin'"--one of my favorite all-time non-fiction books. That love affair continued, though with not quite the same intensity, during the reading of "Ava's Man." Bragg has proven himself to be a writer of Southern wit and pathos, not to mention a splendid chronicler of the human condition.

"The Prince of Frogtown" is Bragg's third foray into family history and Alabama roots, giving great peeks into mill town life and the currents of whiskey and class-distinction that played out in his past. In "Shoutin'" we got to meet his mother, in particular. "Ava's Man" represented his grandfather. Here, "The Prince" is Bragg's father, an off-and-on figure on the stage of Bragg's childhood. We also see how that limited parental role affects Bragg's own more recent and unlikely role as stepfather.

The book's poignancy finds its greatest power in this contrast between fatherly figures. At times, the historical aspects drag a bit, but they find their strength again when revealed through the more recent experiences of Bragg and "the boy," as he refers to the son of his wife.

It's a formula that works, and by any other standard would be topnotch. By Bragg's standards, however, it didn't tug as many laughs and tears from me as his previous books. The magic is still here, in flashes. He can spend two pages describing a fallen angel with perfect teeth, then, in one understated sentence, cause my heart to soften. "The Prince of Frogtown" is an ode to a bygone era, and an attempt to stay relevant in a changing America.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Becky Willis on May 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I have long been a serious fan of Rick Bragg. I happened upon him during a reading at a local bookstore 9 years ago and have been hooked since. I never pass up an opportunity to hear him speak and have been anticipating the release of this book for over a year.

His new book does not disappoint. One moment I was laughing out loud and making my husband listen to me read passages from the book...the next I was all but sobbing. Bragg tells the tragic story of his fathers life and contrasts this with tales of being a new stepfather. It makes for an incredibly moving read. He is able to use the English language and southern dialogue like few people can.

Bragg's two previous family related books were easier reads, but the stories included in this book are wonderful and well worth the read.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Biographical_Book_Lover on May 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I completed The Prince of Frogtown in three sittings, as I did with Ava's Man and All Over But the Shoutin'. I also had the pleasure of knowing "The Woman" when we were grad students and adjunct instructors in Memphis, and I can tell you without any reservation that Bragg is not kidding when he defines The Woman as a strong woman and a loving mom who isn't inclined to tolerate a lot of bullhooey. The best side of this new tome is Bragg's ability - as always - to bring absolute color to his father's life and deeds (mostly misdeeds - to say the least) in a way that only a Southerner could have experienced it.

The contrast between the father's stories are neatly intertwined with brief chapters on The Boy (The Woman's son by a previous marriage - now Bragg's stepson). It is "The Boy" chapters that bring heart to the book. You see how two completely opposite world's smack Bragg wholehearted upon becoming a step-parent to a child who hasn't the slightest comprehension or experience in and around Bragg's world and youth. In the beginning, Bragg is baffled that The Boy doesn't know how to fight, sheds tears on occasion, and owns a wealth of electronic gadgets. Essesntially, a child who is a million miles from Bragg's youth.

The book is an incredible study of contrasts, colorfully told with a mixture of sorrow, hilarity and personal growth by both Bragg and The Boy. Though The Woman does not really play much in the book, her loving, reproachful and stable persona shine throughout without Bragg's invasion of her world.

I highly recommend this book for those who are fans of Bragg's, Conroy's, Styron's or other writers who tell of lives that were very hard, but manage to see the light through others and ultimately within themselves.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Buffalo Storm on June 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I wanted to love this book. I was ready to. All Over But The Shouting is one of my favorite books of all time. Ava's Man was good but not great and the same can be said for The Prince of Frogtown. Not nearly as good stories as the first book. And it's kind of difficult to follow the characters. Not the switching back and forth from present to past. That was dealt with well using the shading on the chapter's about the boy. But during the chapters about his dad all the people telling stories and who they were talking about was confusing. And there just didn't seem to be the magical prose of All Over But The Shouting. This book is definitely worth buying and it's good but just not Great like I hoped.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Sara Dixon on May 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is the best book Bragg has written. I live in Jacksonville and can remember some of the people he writes about. I finished the book in 2 sessions. It was a easy read about a mill village town. Living in the "country" I could relate to the "village kids". Keep up the good work Rick.
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