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All Over But the Shoutin'

4.08  ·  Rating Details ·  21,197 Ratings  ·  1,389 Reviews
This haunting, harrowing, and gloriously moving recollection of a life on the American margin is the story of Rick Bragg, who grew up dirt-poor in northeastern Alabama, seemingly destined for either the cotton mills or die state penitentiary. How Bragg instead became a Pulitzer Prize -- winning reporter for The New York Times is only one of the stories he tells in All Over ...more
Hardcover, 329 pages
Published September 8th 1998 by Turtleback Books (first published 5th 1997)
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Frank This book is not a celebration of the south. It takes place in the south, it's a memoir about growing up poor in Piedmont Alabama, about his…moreThis book is not a celebration of the south. It takes place in the south, it's a memoir about growing up poor in Piedmont Alabama, about his hard-working mother, his mostly absent father, and his two brothers. It is also about the author's career as a journalist, and his lifestyle, and his personality. It is a very good book by a very good writer. But Bragg is no romantic.(less)
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Community Reviews

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Cheri
Jun 24, 2016 Cheri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Rick Bragg draws the poor rural Southern upbringing so truthfully from his own past, and while it may be foreign from my own, it is a background I am very familiar with. Southern roots run deep, they ran deep in my grandparents, and in my father’s distant memories, that grew less a part of him as he flew all those miles trying to put it behind him.

Poverty isn’t about location. It isn’t only found in Bragg’s hometown. Alcoholics are everywhere. Abusive husbands and fathers are rarely news. I can
...more
Diane Barnes
Jul 02, 2015 Diane Barnes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I decided to re-read this one, as it was the July pick for the group On the Southern Literary Trail. I first read it when it was just published and since have read the other two family memoirs he's written, "Ava's Man", the story of his grandfather and his mother's family, and "The Prince of Frogtown" the story of his alcoholic father. Rick Bragg is a poet who just happens to put everything down in prose.

He is a proud Southerner who has found a way to get past his young shame at being poor and u
...more
Ethan
Sep 17, 2010 Ethan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This book was difficult to read. Not because of the descriptions of poverty, but because of the author. Bragg's bloated, melodramatic prose and the massive chip on his shoulder made reading this book a chore. What is the unholy attraction to one-line paragraphs? The godawful overwritten and pompous (humble beginnings, perhaps, but certainly not humble endings) narrative made me nauseous. The writing reminded me of Tuesdays With Morrie, another book that could have been decent if not for the melo ...more
Caley Rogers
Jan 26, 2008 Caley Rogers rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is FILLED with wonderful imagery and is the memior of New York Times write Rick Bragg. Here's a quotation: "This is not an important book... Anyone could tell it, anyone who had a momma who went eighteen years without a new dress so that her sons could have school clothes, who picked cotton in other people's fields and ironed other people's clothes and cleaned the mess in other people's houses, so that her children didn't have to live on welfare alone, so that one of them could climb u ...more
Alison
Jul 19, 2007 Alison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
I am a Yankee (although I now live in the South), and this book darn near killed me. It made me cry just about every time I picked it up. I still get weepy just thinking about how his momma came to New York, or when she stood up to his daddy after pouring out his moonshine and said, "just don't hurt my teeth." Some may find Bragg's writing unbearably over-the-top in its aw-shucks Southernness, but if simple lines like that don't punch you in the gut, you could possibly be made of stone.
rachel
Literature of the American South has always been a favorite of mine. Flannery O'Connor, Robert Penn Warren, Tennessee Williams -- not only is their work spiritually and emotionally complex, it's heady with a feeling of place. In the first quarter of this book, Rick Bragg replicates that feeling almost better than the classics. While all of the authors mentioned above capture the South in a way that feels real, none of them have made me feel so truthfully how alien the rural, poor Southern upbrin ...more
Larry Bassett
Rick Bragg would get five stars for telling a good story. The fact of the matter is he got the Pulitzer Prize for telling good stories. I even liked most of his stories, even the ones about alligators. But I actually give him three stars because I did often wish that he wouldn’t be such a good ole boy and would just get to the point. The sad thing is that his mother had a really hard life and there wasn’t really very much he did to make it better. Sure, he saved his money and bought her a house. ...more
Mister Jones
May 13, 2008 Mister Jones rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: real realists
Recommended to Mister Jones by: a magic realist (LOL just kidding)
I read this one awhile back, and I loved it.

I tend to like confessional autobiographies that don't shy away from flaws and shortcomings, and so I tend to be partial to works that are.

Bragg's book is all that and then some--growing up poor in Alabama, small town with the those who have too much and those who have too little, and having to deal with it with the support of his mother. It's tough writing, gritty, and in your face with no apologies and lots of personal pain. GREAT!

(yeah, I know thi
...more
Gary
Jun 02, 2016 Gary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bonnie
Feb 17, 2009 Bonnie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bruce Dickson
Recommended to Bonnie by: Found on Scott Nordstrom's bookshelf
Shelves: non-fiction, memoirs, 2009
There are books you read that not only make you grateful for what you have, but especially for what you haven't, or more correctly what you never thankfully experienced.

Rick Bragg, Pulitzer Prize Winner for news editorials, touches you to the bone and breaks your heart ever so silenty with his memoirs of growing up in poverty, alcoholism and abuse on account of the father, but love as you've never read on account of the mother.

This is not a rags to riches story but one of rising from the ashes t
...more
Lori Cooper
Jul 25, 2015 Lori Cooper rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hated-it
As much as I love Southern literature, I hated this one. His mother strikes me as a lazy, nasty woman who did not discipline her rotten boys or teach them manners. The author seems to say, "Hey, look at me, how much better I am than anyone!!! I'm SMARRRRTTTT!" I got so bored with his writing that if I ever get a hold of this guy, I will choke him. . . I mean it. I actually thought about using the pages as toilet paper, but alas, I used it for kindling instead. Not really. No matter how bad a boo ...more
Kirk Smith
Feb 15, 2015 Kirk Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the second book I have read by Rick Bragg, and I'm sure I would enjoy about anything he writes. Ava's Man was about his family. This book honors his Mother, but is more of a memoir, with examples of the articles from his career as a reporter. Rick acknowledges the motivations that took him from poverty to "respectability". AP awards and Pulitzer Prizes were one of his motivations, but the desire to "make his Mother proud" was primarily what drove him to excellence in his field. There wi ...more
Rachael
Aug 17, 2007 Rachael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: veryfavorites
I read this after looking at it sitting on my then boyfriend's bookshelf for years, and never considered it. In a desperate fit of needing something to read, I picked it up, and it instantly became my favorite book ever. I don't think it still is--it was more a function of what I wanted at the time. But for a long time I thought that if people wanted to understand how I felt about my mom they'd just have to read this book.

His stories about working as a journalist are interesting too, but it was
...more
Mary
Jul 21, 2010 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite genres is the memoir and this one tops my list. You could say it is the Southern version of Angela's Ashes, written by a son in tribute to his mother.

Bragg is a "good ole boy" whose narrative voice is as thick and Southern as sweet tea. He and his two brothers grew up dirt poor in Alabama with a long suffering mother and a ne'er do well father. Rick is the brother who made good, becoming a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. But no matter where his stories took him - to major c
...more
Pat
Feb 07, 2009 Pat rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bragg is a good writer and can conjure up a sentiment and atmosphere, no problem. But I almost didn't finish the first half of the book, which was written entirely in folksy dialect--as he later says, rustic witticisms. That may well be his natural way of speaking, but I wonder if his own family reads this and thinks, yes, that sounds just like Rick, or if they, like me, think it's distracting to pack QUITE so much down home flavor into EVERY sentence. Having recently read Mark Twain's autobiogr ...more
Jenny
Jan 02, 2008 Jenny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Published in 1998, I believe, this memoir describes the author's childhood growing up very poor in rural Alabama and his path towards becoming a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist at the New York Times. The final chapters are absolutely beautiful and it was nice to end the book on a high note, because parts of the story became very stale for me. I give the author a lot of credit for being honest about himself and his weaknesses (the chip on his shoulder about growing up poor and not having access ...more
Peggy Crawford
Oct 27, 2007 Peggy Crawford rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was the best book that I had read in years. Rick Bragg simply tells the story of his life, his father, mother, and his brothers. It was not a happy life, but he's not complaining. It's more like a tribute to his mother, how she just kept going, through often horrible difficult times. Bragg is a journalist, and how he got into that field could have made a good book all by itself. While it's about a lot of difficult times, it's a beautifully written story that make your heart glad. ...more
Ned Mozier
Written as a reporter, purely autobiographical yet authentic with self-censoring fairness. I will read the others in this series.
Patrick Ross
Aug 28, 2013 Patrick Ross rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
I wish I could give this book a higher rating. Many people swear by it, and it was a good read. But I fear I've been focused too heavily on the craft of memoir writing the last two years, because while reading I kept seeing so much more the author could have done with it.

The opening is one of the best I've ever seen in a memoir. It sets just the right level of humility while making me curious about his poor upbringing, his saintly mother, and his demon father. And his story is a compelling one,
...more
Snotchocheez
Feb 10, 2011 Snotchocheez rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A few weeks ago, I wrote a review of Annie Proulx' "memoir" (er, whine session) "Bird Cloud", where I commented that after reading it, she'd be the very last person I'd care to meet in person. The very polar opposite of that book (and that author's life-of-privilege bitching and moaning) is the exuberantly triumphant, life-affirming "All Over But the Shoutin'". After reading this memoir, not only do I want to meet Rick Bragg (its author), I want to spend hours picking his brain, shoot some hoo ...more
Nancy
Jan 15, 2016 Nancy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is actually my second time reading this excellent book. With his descriptions (i.e. "...where the wallpaper hung like dead skin..."), you get a wonderful visual of the heart-wrenching story he tells of growing up very poor in Alabama and his unlikely climb to a Pulitzer Prize winner. At the center of this story are the sacrifices of his mother, who was often mistreated by her often-drunk husband, and left for long periods of time with no way to support her children. There were times she wou ...more
Kathy
Oct 12, 2008 Kathy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish
I had a love-hate relationship with this book, and I have now divorced it about halfway through. He's a lovely storyteller, but I found his stories did several bad things for me:
- Reinforced all my negative stereotypes about southerners.
- Made me feel helpless in the face of class barriers, which no one in his book really overcame. Even him.
- Reminded me how much I dislike memoirs. He claims it is not a sob story, but the reality does not support his claim.

Now I can get back to reading "Edgar Sa
...more
Jennifer
Oct 29, 2007 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in memoir, biography, storytelling, narrative journalism
http://mulibiiidb.marshall.edu:80/rec...

Self-described paid-storyteller and Pulitzer-Prize-winning-narrative-journalist, Rick Bragg has used the storytelling techniques he learned from his people to write two best-selling memoirs that redefine the boundaries of the genres of memoir and creative nonfiction. His speakerly texts combine the voices of the working class of the Alabama foothills of Appalachia, his own voice as a member of this culture, and his narrative journalistic voice. In his work
...more
Susan Albert
Jul 14, 2015 Susan Albert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Brash, strong Southern voice, compassionate picture of a mother doing her best to make do for her three boys and an alcoholic father who disrupted their lives.
Delta Yarbrough
Jun 14, 2013 Delta Yarbrough rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Maybe my favorite all time book. And it's Bragg not Broggs. Life in the poverty ridden south told by this generations Faulkner
Kim
Jan 20, 2017 Kim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If I, as a grown woman, could figure out how to curl up in someone's lap and have them tell me a story, I would choose Rick Bragg's lap.
Eliza Victoria
Aug 30, 2012 Eliza Victoria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some people’s memoirs you just don’t want to read, but if I ever get to meet Rick Bragg I will thank him forever. How generous of him to share these stories. A journalist by profession, Bragg talks about the death of strangers: those that get shot standing behind counters in New York City, the peeled faces of Haitians, the riots in Miami. The bombing of a daycare center in Oklahoma City, the Susan Smith case regarding a mother that drowned her own children. About his personal life, Bragg bares a ...more
Laura
Last month’s book club pick was American-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 ...more
Jason
Jan 21, 2013 Jason rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author is self-described as "liberal-minded." He does not speak often of conservatives and/or Republicans, and when he does, it is usually with disdain. He is originally from Alabama, a state I was a resident of for four years while in college.

Rick Bragg grew up with a single mom - his alcoholic father abandoned the family when he was little. His earliest memory is sitting on a sack, being pulled along rows of cotton, as his mother picked, and filled the sack to provide for her kids. This b
...more
Timothy Juhl
Nov 27, 2014 Timothy Juhl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
This book was highly recommended by a friend recently, and it had been on my reading radar since it was first published back in the late 1990s. I picked it up in a thrift store not too long ago and I was not completely disappointed.

Bragg's writing is homespun, southern, seductive at times. In the first third of the book, he writes so lovingly of his dirt-poor childhood and the struggles of his bereft mother raising he and his two brothers that I fairly raced through the chapters. I have never wa
...more
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Rick Bragg is the Pulitzer Prize winning writer of best-selling and critically acclaimed books on the people of the foothills of the Appalachians, All Over but the Shoutin, Ava's Man, and The Prince of Frogtown.

Bragg, a native of Calhoun County, Alabama, calls these books the proudest examples of his writing life, what historians and critics have described as heart-breaking anthems of people usual
...more
More about Rick Bragg...

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“Every life deserves a certain amount of dignity, no matter how poor or damaged the shell that carries it.” 210 likes
“Passion is something you really don't miss, after it has cooled. It is like looking at an empty bottle on the side of the road and thinking, "Boy, I wish I had a Coke." The loves you miss are the ones that go away when they are still warm, even hot, to the touch.” 22 likes
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