by Rick Bragg
Narrated by Frank Muller
Published 1999 by Recorded Books
11 hrs, 5 mins. Audiobook
Genres: Nonfiction, Memoir
Last month’s book club pick was Alabama-born authors. We’ve spent a couple of months reading different books on a similar topic. The Alabama Booksmith has a good list of Alabama authors. Some of them weren’t born in Alabama, but it’s easy to tell who was by reading the bios. I didn’t make it that far into the list before I picked my book. I can’t quite say what it is about this book that made me want to read it. I just thought it sounded interesting, and since I haven’t read a memoir in a while, I decided I would try it.
All Over But the Shoutin’ is mostly about Bragg’s mother and the sacrifices she made to give him a better life than she had. Bragg has always felt a sense of duty when it comes to his mother. He wanted to pay her back for everything she did for him, and I think writing this book was part of that.
If Bragg’s purpose was to give his mother the recognition and praise she deserved, mission accomplished. The story of his childhood is eye-opening and moving. I’m from a small town in Alabama, but I grew up in a different time, and I never had to deal with the kind of poverty his family lived through. Still, there are parts I really enjoyed and related to. I totally understand the experience that is the small-town Southern Baptist church. It can be… intense. Also, they love food. There’s food at everything, and it’s always amazing. It’s food like nothing you will ever taste. There’s also the boredom of living in a small town that usually leads to trouble. I’ve seen more than enough of that growing up. It’s fun to read things like that, and really get it. It was also interesting to read about people who’ve never left their town, never seen anything. One of the most entertaining parts was when his mother accompanied him to New York. She amazed by the plane and the tall buildings. I can only imagine what that would be like for someone who’s only ever lived in one place. The only thing I didn’t enjoy was all the information about his journalism. While it was kind of interesting, it wasn’t what I was looking for in this book. I was more interested in his mother and his life in Alabama. At the same time, I think a good chunk of it was crucial to set up the last part of the book.
Bragg’s memoir dedicated to his mother was certainly interesting and mostly entertaining. He did a wonderful job painting a picture of a selfless woman who sacrificed so much for her children. I’m thinking of picking up the book about his grandfather, at some point.