Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Alphabe Thursday - R is for Rick Bragg

Time for my favorite class, Alphabe Thursday. Don't be late, Mrs. Matlock loves punctuality! This week, we are to write about the letter R. I thought about rabbits, but I'm allergic. Rapunzel, but we all know that story. Rock - n - roll, but I wrote about that last week. So I thought to myself, how about a favorite writer? Rick Bragg immediately came to mind.


Rick Bragg is the Pulitzer Price winning author of several books, a former journalist for the New York Times and currently a writing professor at the University of Alabama.

Rick's writing is strongly rooted in the oral story telling tradition of the South. To quote the man himself:

“My grandfather on my daddy’s side and my grandma on my momma’s side used to try and cuss their miseries away. They could out-cuss any damn body I have ever seen. I am only an amateur cusser at best, but I inherited other things from these people who grew up on the ridges and deep in the hollows of northeastern Alabama, the foothills of the Appalachians. They taught me, on a thousand front porch nights, as a million jugs passed from hand to hand, how to tell a story.”


The first book that I read from his collection of work was "All Over But The Shoutin'". His stories of growing up dirt poor in Alabama rang so true. It covers his discovery of the love for story, and his escape from the dirt scrabble world he lived in to become a writer. And what a writer he became. One of my favorite passages from the book:

"
You begged the sky for a single cloud. The sun did not shine down, it bored into you, through your hat and hair and skull, until you could feel it inside your very brain, til little specks of that sun seemed to break away and dance around, just outside your eyes. It turned the shovel handle hot and baked the red dirt til you could feel it through your leather work boots, radiating. Your sweat did not drip, it ran, turning the dust to mud on your face, soaking your T-shirt and your jeans, clinging like dead skin. The salt in it stung your eyes, until your lids were bright red and the whites were bloodshot like a drunk man. Every now and then you or some man beside you would uncover a ground rattler, and you would chop it to little pieces with your shovel or beat it to mush with rakes, not just because it could bite you, kill you, but because it got in your way, because you had to take an extra step, to raise your arms an extra time, under that sun."

What would I give to be able to write like this! I swear, after reading this you feel like you need a big tall glass of tea. One of the happiest memories I have is of meeting this man at the Texas Book Festival, and one of my most prized possessions is a signed copy of this book.


"Somebody Told Me" is a collection of his newspaper stories. Read "Where A Child on the Stoop can Strike Fear". But be warned, once you start reading, you won't be able to stop.

From "Ava's Man" to the "Prince of Frogtown", we meet the people and places that shaped this amazing writer. His writing is so evocative. You can feel the heat, smell the dust, see the landscape and the people that formed him.

If you've not read Rick Bragg's work, give it a try. I don't think you'll be disappointed.
I've attached links to his facebook page in case you are interested in seeing what he's up to now.

http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/rickbraggauthor

Now get to class and see what everyone else has chosen for R this week!

39 comments:

Christy said...

I rarely read adult fiction, but I just loved what he had to say about his grandparents. I may have to give one of his book a try!

GardenofDaisies said...

This book looks very interesting. I will have to take a look at the bookstore.

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Kat, I'm not sure how on earth I missed this post since I follow your blog, but I absolutely adore Rick Bragg... and that book was GREAT! I have an autographed copy. Our book club read it. AND I love what he wrote about New Orleans after Katrina. Did you ever see that piece? I got it in an email and cried.

XO,

Sheila :-)

My name is PJ. said...

This looks like someone whose writing I could get lost in! I was sucked right into his first paragraph!

Fabulous R!

JDaniel4's Mom said...

He sounds wonderful. A great book and tea sounds great too.

Diana said...

Interesting!

Have a good day!

Terra said...

What a great post. I love books! I hope you will come by and link up this with the friday reviews post on Tales from the nightstand tomorrow! I am off to check out the author, you got me wanting more!!!

Mumsy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mumsy said...

He sounds like a writer that I would love to read..Thanks, I will have to check him out.

(Misspell on the above comment so I deleted it, sorry!)

Always Nesting said...

Amazing!! I'm sitting here in Oregon wearing a sweatshirt and yet can "feel" the heat. Now that's a good writer!

laterg8r said...

never heard of him but i'll be sure to give him a try now :D

Lois said...

I have never heard of him either, but will try to find some of his work. We always said "all over but the cryin'" when I was growing up. His description of that hot sun reminds me of how I feel sometimes when I'm working in my yard in the summer around here!

GFDINER - Kathy said...

Have never heard of him either. He is on my list now so the next time I go to the library. Thanks for expanding my horizons. Keep reading. Have a great week.

Robin said...

I LOVE Rick Bragg! It's just like reading something my uncle (or dad or brother or cousin) would write!

{{HUGS}}

Robin :o)

Jo said...

I havent heard of him either but he sounds like a "must read" author ... thanks so much for posting that paragraph, i just know I am going to love his work.

Tracy said...

Not heard of this one will look out tho thank you for sharing and visiting me

Viki said...

I'm in the club too of never hearing of him. I'll have to look into his books. He sounds like a wonderful writer. I love how the excerpt was so descriptive, wow! Great R post.

Cheryl said...

Thanks for posting this! This author sounds like a can't miss read.

Pondside said...

I don't know this writer at all - but he's now on my list - so, thank you!

Debbie said...

Never heard of him but he sounds outstanding....looks like you put a good book read out there.

Julie Schuler said...

I saw him on Book TV or C-Span, or whatever you call it a while back. He was good, but I don't have any of his books.

Personalized Sketches and Sentiments said...

Whew! Yes, reading that passage,made me want to sit under a fan with a tall glass of lemonade! I love the heat (have to admit that I will even savor sitting in a hot car!) but the heat of the sun "...you could feel...inside your very brain..." that is hot!

I will keep have to look up some of his books.
Thanks for sharing!

Blessings & Aloha!
Thank you also for stopping by and for your sweet comment. :o)

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I'll have to get that collection of his newspaper stories ..I bet they are fascinating!

After reading that book passage I'll never look at the sun the same way...what powerful writing!

Christy said...

thank you for opening my eyes to rick bragg...i am excited to read book--now that i have finally renewed my library card!

Maggie B said...

I had never heard of Rick Bragg before but the passage from his book makes me want to read more.
I shall be checking out the link, thanks for the recommendation.
~Maggie~

Sarah said...

Thanks for the recommendation. This is a new author to me. I'll check out his site.

xinex said...

Hi Kat! I usually just read mystery or suspenseful books but your description of Rick Bragg and all those passages makes me want to try his books too. Thanks for the recommendation..Christine

Steph said...

I'm not familiar with this author. Thanks so much for the incredible introduction. I'm with you and the tea after reading that passage. I am interested in Appalachia culture. It always catches me by surprise when I brush up against others from the US and yet their "world" growing up is so unlike my own. We're all so unique.

Amy said...

Oh boy...another one on my list. Thanks Kat. You never can read to many good books. His writing sounds right up my ally.

Betty (picture circa 1951) said...

His description of working in the hot sun was very good. I could relate. It's like mowing the lawn here in the summer, but without the snakes. I think I would enjoy his books.

Jacque said...

Good Morning,

No, I haven't heard of Rick. Thanks for introducing us to him. His writing does sound descriptive! I need a glass of iced Tea too!!

Thanks for stopping by the farmhouse for a visit. We love having company!

Aging Mommy said...

I had never heard of Rick Bragg but will definitely take a look for some of his books next time I am at the library.

Sh@KiR@ CK said...

Very interesting..
what a great tribute...
mine is here
Have you a blessed weekend!
hugs
shakira

easternsparkle said...

Not somebody that I have heard of but I'll look him up now you've recomended him!

Confessions of a Plate Addict said...

Hi Kat! I loved the passages that your shared with us. I was not familiar with the author, but this sounds like something I would enjoy! I could just feel the heat and see the red clay. Ohhh...that's my backyard! lol Happy weekend...hugs...Debbie

Shellbelle said...

You should be his new agent! Looks like you got a lot of folks interested in checking him out, including me. I added him to my Amazon store under Books Recommended by Other Bloggers. Thanks for the recommendation!

H said...

Haven't heard of this guy (maybe because I'm English) but I enjoyed the extract!

Jenny said...

I haven't heard of this author but I am definitely gonna order him up and check this out! I really enjoyed the excerp you shared.

And how special that you actually got to meet him. That always makes writing feel more personal I think!

Thanks for this great stop on our little journey through Alphabe-Thursday's Letter "R"!

A+

And thank you!

Melinda Cornish said...

I have never read any of his books, but this is now on my list.....I love memoirs.....especially honest ones...he made me think of Pat Conroy.