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- ALL OVER BUT THE SHOUTIN’. By Rick Bragg . Pantheon: 325 pp., $25
Making magic with words can take you places you would never think you might go. He might go a little hard on northerners who take themselves too seriously, but he does make a point about some of the black tie things that really are neither here nor there.
He had problems with relationships and in making a marriage go. Now, that is not that unusual in the world today, but certainly Bragg did not have great role models on how a partnership might operate. He worked hard for his piece of the pie, and he intends to enjoy it. While it may not ring true with some readers, those would be readers from other areas of the country. It might be hard to picture the things that Bragg talks about, but I could feel every word of this book. If you are southern and particularly from the lower side of the poverty line, then I would say that you really need to read this book and celebrate the expression of a culture that has long been silent.
It would be nice to think that poverty is just not having the latest Nike tennis shoes, but it does go much deeper and it cuts across all color lines. One of my favorite quotes comes from Jessie Jackson. While some people may see this as a character thing, it really does have a heck of a lot to do with where you were born and the tools you get from the get-go. Well, read the book and decide.
All Over but the Shoutin' on Apple Books
After very limited college experience and very good luck Bragg, at the age of 18, gets a job at a local paper when the first choice decides to remain employed at Kentucky Fried Chicken , he commences a rapid climb through the ranks of the newspaper trade, starting as a sports reporter in small towns in Alabama and getting a steady succession of better jobs through his plucky Ragged Dick combination of large talent and sheer will.
Bragg moves to a new city just about every year for 10 years, moving ever farther away from the strict but sure comforts of his family back home and ever farther into ''enemy territory,'' the polite and at best indifferent precincts of the white middle and upper classes. From the vantage point of adulthood, Bragg contemplates ''how I got over'' the extent of his mother's accomplishment in not letting him be broken.
He spends much of his rise scheming and saving to buy her a house. Gradually the reader becomes aware that what Bragg is really trying to buy for her is a place in the world, a place from which she doesn't have to move, a place where Mrs.
Bragg can, for once, sit still, and be unconcerned with practical exigencies, be insulated from whatever random difficulties and humiliations the given day may bring. It is this sort of life-or-death urgency that gives his tale its majesty and power. Bragg is showing us a place we have not seen before, not quite like this. I know if that situation would have arisen in my house growing up, my mother and father would do everything in their power to make it to the event.
The only thing that would have stopped them was if they were in the hospital. But knowing them they would try everything possible to get out of there for a day or two to see it. One of the major ideas in this book deals with culture. First off culture is defined as: the quality in a person or society that arises from a concern for what is regarded as excellent in arts, letters, manners, scholarly pursuits, etc.
Reading this book as someone not from the south is very hard at first.
All Over But the Shoutin'
When I first started reading it seemed that Bragg wrote as if everyone who reads the book understands first hand what poor people went through during that time frame. There was just not enough time in the school year to go in depth to all the specific stories that he and others went through.
After reading the book though I think Bragg did a very good job communicating in the book. He gave just enough background information on the stories he was telling to make you want more.
As I said before, I grew up in a middle class family. This made it difficult for me to completely understand everything that he was talking about in the book. I never knew what it was like to have little or no food to eat. Also, the work aspect is difficult to understand for me.
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I know what his mother did was what all people in her situation did then. The working conditions that she dealt with day in and day out were horrific. And the thing was she never complained about it or quit. I know if I was in her situation I would have never lasted. I would have quit and tried to find another job. Another option that middle class workers have is taking vacation time if it gets to hot out or if it is raining.
That is just the way we deal with situations like that.
I believe our generation living in those conditions would never have made it back then. Communication is a very important aspect of any family. Good communication leads to a better family life. Bragg and his mother in particular seemed to communicate very well. The way he details each of his childhood stories is very good and since most of the stories are told by the motherly figure in your life you can see the communication is good.
The communication between Bragg and his father is the complete opposite.
ALL OVER BUT THE SHOUTIN’. By Rick Bragg . Pantheon: 325 pp., $25
It was very hard for him to do much talking with him because he was never around for an extended period of time. The time that his father was at home he was drunk or showing up there just to retrieve some whiskey to get drunk. The only fatherly figure he had were his uncles who showed up occasionally. I can relate to what Bragg went through with no fatherly figure to a point. My father worked two jobs my whole life. He is the one that supports the family, which is the stereotype of men in this generation.
The time that we did spend together was always doing things that I wanted to do: playing catch, going to a ball game or just playing cards.