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All Over But the Shoutin'

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  26,845 ratings  ·  1,889 reviews
The extraordinary gifts for evocation and insight and the stunning talent for storytelling that earned Rick Bragg a Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 1996 are here brought to bear on the wrenching story of his own family's life. It is the story of a violent, war-haunted, alcoholic father and a strong-willed, loving mother who struggled to protect her three sons from th ...more
Paperback, 329 pages
Published September 1998 by Vintage (first published August 26th 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 hard-work…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)
Skyqueen Serious teens, young adults, adults, and seniors ...who have actually lived it! So it will be a pseudo-memoire for them. An unadulterated look at hist…moreSerious teens, young adults, adults, and seniors ...who have actually lived it! So it will be a pseudo-memoire for them. An unadulterated look at historical life in the poor South for which, sadly, not much has changed. When I actually visited the Montgomery area back in the late 90's, my impression was that it was 20 years behind. However, I thoroughly enjoyed it, for as much of the writing style as the truth. People like Dolly Parton grew up in this general area and type of life too. As well as Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Jimmy Swaggart. It doesn't hurt to expose yourself to the diversity of our great nation.(less)
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Average rating 4.12  · 
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 ·  26,845 ratings  ·  1,889 reviews

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Jun 24, 2016 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
Diane Barnes
Jul 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Andy Marr
Sep 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
A raw and unsentimental, but ultimately uplifting, story of a poor, white southern woman, as told by Bragg, her loving, bitter and troubled son. In turn heartbreaking and beautiful, this is a young man's love letter to his mother, and to the country that shaped and very nearly broke him. A fantastic story, made real by Bragg's unpretentious and painfully honest writing. Brilliant. ...more
Dec 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: public-library
'...every life deserves a certain amount of dignity, no matter how poor or damaged the shell that carries it.'

This memoir is a song of thanks to the author's mother.  She had a small voice, but stood strong against her alcoholic husband in order to shield her boys from the worst of his drunken rampages.  Her husband took off when the boys were still small and she was left with the responsibility of caring for them in any way she could. 

It was a simpler time, in a lot of ways.  But having said t
Sep 17, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Judith E
Apr 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rick Bragg’s memoir is about the gritty American rural south of the mid 20th century. His journey from Possum Trot, Alabama to a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist is an homage to the sacrifices his momma made to feed, clothe, and protect him while raising him in heart breaking poverty. If you have ever questioned the need for free school lunches for kids, this will convince you of their invaluable necessity.

He received a Harvard ‘fellowship’ but was not above threatening his snooty dinner partn
All Over but the Shoutin' is a beautiful memoir by Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Rick Bragg as a loving tribute to his mother, and a searing examination of his hard-scrabble upbringing in Alabama. This is the first book that I have read by Rick Bragg but I'm looking forward to reading more of his works because of his powerful Southern voice. A highlight of this memoir was following his career in journalism, and his love of the power of words, as well as his extraordinary ability to capture t ...more
Caley Rogers
Jan 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Cathrine ☯️
4.5 ★★★★★
Its all over and the only disappointment with this audio was that Rick Bragg didn't do the narration.
Jul 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
May 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
For a man accustomed to writing about strangers in strange places it must have been a scary undertaking to focus on self, family and home. This is a moving, without becoming maudlin, memoir of a boy becoming a man with an inner fire that’s fed and restored through love of family. Personal truth should be a changeable concept. No growing person can stay with one granite truth. Instead you witness his truth changing as he recalls his life with an open heart and mind. His open handed willingness to ...more
Dec 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
This novel is a perfect example of the fact that even though a child has no choice in the circumstances they grow up experiencing... they DO have a choice, as adults, in how they deal with those circumstances!!! Our history can be used as an excuse to do nothing with our lives or as a platform to achieve more!!! A great example also of how having just a few strong role models during a child's formidable years can help them survive even the most destitute situations!!! A few repetitive areas thro ...more
Jan 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I have been reading a lot of memoirs over the past few months and All Over but the Shoutin' is by far, the best I have read (and I've read a lot of good ones, by the way!). Journalist Rick Bragg takes us from his difficult childhood in Alabama... characterized by poverty and the abandonment by his very troubled alcoholic father to his early adult life as a reporter and eventually to his work at the New York Times for which he won a Pulitzer Prize.

It wasn't just Mr. Bragg's story or the way in w
Ange H
Dec 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
I wish I could figure out what perverse impulse compels me to keep reading memoirs when I almost always dislike them. I did finish this one so I guess that's something.

I like to read Southern Living magazine, and Rick Bragg has the back-page article. It’s always about his mama, and the stories are really cute so I thought it might be interesting to find out more about them. I learned that he grew up dirt poor in Alabama but overcame adversity and went on to become a Pulitzer Prize winning journa
Book Concierge
In this memoir, Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist Rick Bragg outlines the difficulties of growing up “dirt poor” in Appalachia, with an alcoholic father who could never shake that demon and a mother who willingly sacrificed her own health and well-being for her children’s sake. He also gives the reader a look at the life of a child who felt loved and was free to explore and roam and enjoy the nature around him. He openly shares the differing paths his brothers took. Older brother Sam found his o ...more
Mister Jones
May 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Kirk Smith
Feb 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you have read this amazing story, you'll know precisely the scene when I failed to choked back happiness tears. ...more
John of Canada
This is the best book I've read all year!(all week?) It just made me appreciate responsibility and love. It is beyond me how somebody living in such abject poverty devoted herself to her babies. The writing was honest, and the descriptions of what was happening in the south, American cities and Haiti was astonishing to me. This is a book to keep, and I will be gifting it, and doing a re-read or two. Bragg is a tremendous wordsmith, he took me to places I still have trouble comprehending. ...more
Feb 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 h ...more
Feb 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Bruce Dickson
Recommended to Bonnie by: Found on Scott Nordstrom's bookshelf
Shelves: memoirs, non-fiction, 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
Jun 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jon Grice
Oct 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: bio-memoir
Many years ago, this book was basically my introduction to memoirs and southern writing. Rick Bragg writes a fine book here.
Patrick Ross
Aug 28, 2013 rated it liked it
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,
Aug 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
I very much liked the beginning of this memoir, Bragg's story of his impoverished childhood in Alabama. The writing was good, honest, witty even, despite recounting some harsh realities. Towards the middle though I grew impatient and somewhat irritated. Bragg quickly became someone I couldn't sympathize with, as he talks casually about flitting from one girlfriend to another, like changing clothes, and focusing on his own ambition to be a successful writer. There is nothing wrong with ambition, ...more
Feb 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This will be a lifetime favorite for the love of his Momma that Rick Bragg poured into these pages. Any man that loves his Momma like this is a man well done.

Rick Bragg (it’s hard to settle on just Rick or just Bragg) is a supreme journalist but no one needs me to say that.

This book reminds me of another favorite, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt for its journalistic style in book format. These are the kinds of stories I used to find in Vanity Fair in the 1990s.

It is so
Aug 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Lori Cooper
Jul 25, 2015 rated it did not like it
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
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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

Articles featuring this book

"Behind all your stories is always your mother's story. Because hers is where yours begin." -Mitch Albom The bond...
53 likes · 25 comments
“Every life deserves a certain amount of dignity, no matter how poor or damaged the shell that carries it.” 258 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.” 26 likes
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