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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Book Review: All Over But the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg

The memoirs of famed journalist Rick Bragg are featured in the autobiographical novel All Over but the Shoutin'. Bragg recites his tale of hardship and his family's struggle to survive in rural Alabama and Georgia in the late 1960s and 1970s. He dwells on being abandoned by his father and the effect it had on him and his family. In addition, he celebrates his mother's heroic attempt to carry their family through all of the pain and suffering.

Bragg has a wonderful writing technique that is uniquely his. He uses unrelated images to describe how people spoke in the rural Alabama and Georgia. When Bragg talks about how is mother spoke, he says that she did not have "timing" and when she spoke it sounded "like puppies spilling out of a cardboard box, jumping all over each other". He also writes about how people in the South would leave the "r" out of words. He writes that the word "mother" became "mu-thah" and "never" became "nevah".

All Over but the Shoutin' is a very captivating novel. Each chapter begins with sentences that capture your attention and entices the reader to read further into the chapter to find out what it is about. The beginning of chapter 10 is especially interesting. It begins, "For three good years...I lived in a beautiful oblivion."

This is a wonderfully written autobiography suited for anyone who loves a good book about real life. Rick Bragg expresses the human condition as he experienced it growing up. He recounts the hardship, pain, suffering, and guilt in this novel. These are all events in the lives of people no matter what your economic status is. Anyone who picks up this novel will not be able to put it down until they have finished it. The novel captures the essence of life and will be enjoyed by all readers.

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