Thursday, April 12, 2007

One for the Road

When I travel I always look forward to some good reading time. I set out on this trip with Wallace Stegner, a favorite writer, and a second (big) book Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts. I thought those would last me for the length of this trip. I finished the Stegner right away, but haven’t even started the other one. I got side-tracked in Augusta, or maybe blind-sided is a better description. Our friends there handed me an absolutely stunning memoir, All Over But the Shoutin’ by Rick Bragg. I read the first few pages with my heart pounding in excitement. Since then, that’s all I’ve wanted to read. It has been the perfect thing to read in the South. I can’t put it down. I’m already grieving that it will be finished soon and I’ll have to move on….

I’ve read and loved a lot of southern writers – Lee Smith, Faulkner, Erskine Caldwell, Harper Lee, Maya Angelou, Pat Conroy, and many other great ones. This book of Bragg’s is so beautifully written, so elegiac, and his stories just burn into my memory. He writes in great tradition, yet his work is unique and tells his life with such truth and humor and dignity. I’m completely absorbed in it these days, dreaming it by night and day-dreaming it by day. I think he has written more. I need to read all of his books. If you’re looking for something fabulous, read this book!

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