Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Like Christmas, Your Birthday and the First Day of Vacation All In One

Say the name with me......Rick Bragg. In Charleston! Let me try to be clear so you understand: I love Rick Bragg. Love, love, love. Adore him, adore his books, swoon with envy over his flawless prose.

I discovered him by accident many years ago while wandering the aisles of Books A Million. The stories he told of his childhood and teen years (we are about the same age)were so familiar, so real, so beautifully written that I was both transported with joy and crushed by despair that I could ever hitch together words in such a fashion.

My most favorite part of All Over But the Shouting was a tale he told of when he was studying on a fellowship at Harvard. There was a Russian journalist there also and he admitted when he heard her accent, he would ask her, "So, vere is Moose and Squirrel?" It's my most favorite because I've done that, heard a Russian accent and instead of thinking something urbane and sophisticated, Tolstoy or Baryshnikov, my mind goes to Bullwinkle and Saturday mornings spent on the floor in front of the television.

And as much as I loved the story he told of his childhood, essentially fatherless and poor, his mother shielding him as best she could from the reality of their lives, I also loved the stories he told from his newspaper career. Stories of poor people, people with no voice. And he cared about those people and he told their stories with dignity and respect that they seldom received elsewhere.

You can't fake that compassion.

And I can't wait to see him (again - I saw him in New Orleans many years ago), to listen to him tell a little more of his story and to thank him once again for allowing me to believe that there is worth and healing in our stories.

One of two cardinals that were fighting in the yard yesterday. While the female gorged herself on sunflower seeds.

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