Whenever Pulitzer-prize winning author Rick Bragg shows up, offering to take me on a trip through the South, I pack my bags and join the caravan. Such is the case with his latest book, My Southern Journey: True Stories from the Heart of the South. With Bragg as guide, the party tromps through the red dirt of Alabama, my Cajun Country home, and other spots on the Gulf Coast, while getting to know “the people whose lives are pressed between these pages.”
My Southern Journey is a collection of essays, both new and some previously published in Southern Living and other magazines. Bragg divides his essays topically into five sections—Home, Table, Place, Craft, and Spirit—which he fills with great titles like “For a Vegetable, I’ll Have White Gravy,” “Donkey Business,” “The Fine Art of Piddling,” and “Wood, Paint, Nails, and Soul.”
The jacket says that My Southern Journey is Bragg’s “love letter to the place he calls home.” So true. His love and respect fills every page of this book. One moment, he has you belly laughing, often at his own expense, and the next finds you wiping away a soft tear as you read what he writes about his mama and others he loves.
In the afterword of My Southern Journey, Bragg concludes:
I have been writing for a living since 1977. Many of you have been with me that long.
I can only assume that the 100 percent humidity, and the clouds of mosquitos, and the relentless heat of too many dog days of summer have affected your judgment.
For a more comprehensive review of My Southern Journey, read the Washington Independent Review of Books.