Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Rick Bragg grew up in grinding poverty in northeastern Alabama. This is the story of how he got from there to his success as a writer. However, it is more a tribute to the woman who got him there, his mother. Abandoned by a violent alcoholic husband, she was left to raise three boys on her own. She picked cotton and often went hungry to see that they were fed. Bragg intersperses the story of his own development with his mother's own story. Ultimately, he measures his own success by being able finally to provide for her.
This report prepared by Tara D-S
The autobiography of Bragg's upbringing in the poor and rural south of the 1960's is moving, tragic, and uniquely American. His story pays homage to the selfless efforts of his mother to raise her three young sons without the assistance of their heavy drinking and abusive Korean War vet father. Growing up not realizing the sacrifices she has made for them, Bragg feels indebted to his mother for all she as done without in her life. He pushes himself to become a better son and writer, starting out as a sports reporter for a local daily newspaper in Alabama, working his way up to the NY Times, a prestigious fellowship to Harvard, and a Pulitzer Prize for journalism.
Bragg delves into the difficult relationship with his estranged father and later his younger brother, whose behavior as an adult mirrors that of their dad. He is forthright in assessing his own shortcomings and personality quirks. Braggs also talks about how the unsettling and horrific stories he writes for the Times haunt him months after his reporting trips are over and the events have faded from the nation's consciousness. Despite all his personal and professional accomplishments, he is proudest of having saved enough money to buy his mother a home of her own in her hometown in Alabama. Bragg's lifestory which reads like a work of fiction is compelling and ultimately uplifting.
This report prepared by David Fletcher