Nonfiction – Essays
Released September 15, 2015
Bottom Line: Read it.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Publisher (Oxmoor House) via NetGalley
Bragg shows off Pat Conroy-caliber writing in his essay collection about Southern life. My Southern Journey is going on my Great Books Under 300 Pages lists.
A collection of Bragg’s previously published (in various magazines and newspapers) articles about Southern life and culture.
Why I Read It
I loved Bragg’s memoir, All Over But the Shoutin’, about growing up in rural Alabama and got to meet him at BEA this year (where he autographed my book with “To Sarah, Who gets it”, which obviously warmed my heart).
The South (duh!), food, traditions, family lore, football, cultural observations
What I Liked
- Bragg’s introduction to this collection is a thing of beauty. He shares that he tries to avoid writing about the South in cliches (i.e. “no pig pickin’, frat parties, or cutthroat beauty contests”) and he truly does accomplish this. Dare I say that his writing about the South reminds me of Pat Conroy’s (for regular readers of this blog, you know this is a huge compliment from me)? And, a minute after this comparison occurred to me, Bragg mentioned having dinner with Conroy. I thought, “of course.”
- Bragg showcases his many talents in this collection: he’s a master at stringing words together in interesting ways, a storyteller, a travel writer, a food writer, an arbiter of culture, and a sports journalist.
- His essays range wildly in tone, from the heartfelt to nostalgic to funny (i.e. his mother becoming a crazy cat lady, his forays into carpentry) to incredibly insightful.
- There’s a nice, big dose of college football commentary (well, Alabama and the SEC to be specific), which is also quite a presence in our house (see my 8 Books for Football Fans post).
What I Didn’t Like
- There is some repetition among the essays. Some small anecdotes and background is repeated across multiple essays. This is to be expected given the essays were originally published as stand-alones, but I would have liked to see some minor edits for the purpose of this book.
A Defining Quote
People ask me, often, why I love a place so imperfect, where the mosquitoes dance between lukewarm rain and the summer heat turns every stretch of blacktop into a shimmering river of hot tar, where the football-mad fling curses and sometimes punches and forget their raising on call-in radio, and the politicians seem intent on a return to 1954. I merely answer: How do you not love a place where the faded beads from a parade six years before still hang in the branches of live oak trees.
Good for People Who Like…
Gorgeous writing, small-town life, Southern culture, sports