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All over but the Shoutin' Paperback – September 8, 1998
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From School Library Journal
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
A deep understanding of the South is woven throughout the book, along with an appreciation of this region's poorest people. Rick Bragg was raised in a family led by his mother after she finally broke away from his alcoholic and violent father. Vivid memories crowd the book's pages as Bragg writes of his upbringing: surrounded by an extended family, food, hard work, and racism. There were several different cultures in the South of Bragg's youth. Whites belonged to classes, with corresponding differences in education and expectations. Bragg got only a few glimpses into the lives of the wealthy South. His upbringing was among the poorest of the poor. In his culture, men were expected to fight hard and dirty when insulted. Drinking and getting drunk was part of male gatherings. Salvation was found in religion, which surrounded people on the radio, in church, and when family got together. Women cooked huge meals that took hours to prepare. They were responsible for doing what needed to be done to hold a family together and raise the children.
What Bragg carries from his childhood are a fierce and protective love of the South, an affiliation with those who live in poverty wherever he finds them, and a hatred of those who grew up privileged and feel superior because of it. He also carries into adulthood a fear of fatherhood: a concern that he will become as his father was. This causes the breakup of his marriage and leaves Bragg in mid-life looking for something that he feels is missing. Finally, Bragg carries with him a sense of personal inferiority: that he is unworthy of his career, because of his lack of education. Many of these themes come together in the year that he spends as a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. He is surprised at his selection for this program. He is angered by ignorance and "petrified opinions" about the South he finds there. Yet, he realizes during this year that "you can't go through life not liking people because they didn't have to work as hard or come as far as you did." Bragg seems to have come to terms with his past and present when he receives the Pulitzer Prize. This confirms his worth as a journalist and his mother's success in raising him.
It was at the funeral of his grandmother that Bragg realized the gradual and inexorable ending of the world he grew up in and determined to write this memoir to his mother, while she is still alive to read it. It is a powerful and haunting tribute to her dignity and hard work.