Noelle M's Reviews > All Over But the Shoutin'

All Over But the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg
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's review
Aug 17, 2011

really liked it
Read in March, 2011

I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio in the 1950s and '60s. Poor white southerners moved to the area to work on the GM assembly line in Norwood. Local people referred to them as hillbillies and poor white trash. The kids from these families distinguished between themselves and the rest of us by discovering who was "briar" (pronounced brah-r)and who was not. The kids tended to drop out of school, marry young, had bad teeth, and were overtly prejudiced against black people. The women sported 1940s pompadour hairdos that morphed in the 1960s into 1950s puffy bangs and long ponytails. Other than these few stereotypes I knew very little about these people.

Bragg's book brought poor southerners to life with a great deal of sympathy. It also made him a poster child for the lingering insecurities that arise from childhood abandonment. He's a textbook case of a child overcompensating for an absent adult in the family, and having succeeded somewhat in the abnormal quest, forever after being plagued by the suspicion that he'll never measure up socially. The story stayed with me a long time after I closed the book.

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