In a number of essays in this collection, Rick Bragg refers to magic, usually in relation to food, particularly in New Orleans. But, I use that term in relation to his writing. His latest collection is poetry, pure magic. My Southern Journey: True Stories from the Heart of the South is quite often humorous, sometimes a little melancholy, but always warm, heart-felt, and written with love.
Bragg's collection includes essays previously published in Southern Living, Bon Appetit, GQ, and even Garden & Gun. I'm guessing that some are original for this book when there's no magazine title listed. He's broken the book into five sections; Home, Table, Place, Craft, and Spirit. However, the articles flow from Bragg's life, his love of his mother, the South, and Southern food. It's a book that wraps the reader in that familiar Southern humidity, and makes anyone crave the fried chicken, fish, and sweet tea. It's a book about holidays (several featuring Bragg's favorite, Thanksgiving), and family and home.
If you read and love Rick Bragg's writing, the book will suck you in on the first page. "It suits me, here. My people tell their stories of vast red fields and bitter turnip greens and harsh white whiskey like they are rocking in some invisible chair, smooth and easy even in the terrible parts, because the past has already done its worst.. The joys of this Southern life, we polish like old silver. We are good at stories." Oh, yes. Rick Bragg has always been good at stories.
If you like Southern storytelling, rocking on the porch stories, stories of family and food and home, My Southern Journey is a comfort read. And, it doesn't get any better than this.
My Southern Journey: True Stories from the Heart of the South by Rick Bragg. Oxmoor House. 2015. ISBN 9780848746391 (hardcover), 254p.
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