Where I Come From: Stories of the Deep South by Rick Bragg is a collection of 80 plus short stories, many of which have been published as columns in Southern Living and Garden and Gun magazines. Bragg says he will continue to write in Southern Living about Momma, mudholes, tides, and Tupperware until the magazine raises it standards.
The stories in this collection are of the South’s gentler, easier nature. It is a litany of great talkers, blue-green waters, deep casseroles, kitchen-sink permanents, lying fishermen, haunted mansions, and dogs that never die, things that make this place more than a dotted line on a map or a long-ago failed rebellion, even if only in some cold-weather dream.
Each story is an endearing gem that will bring a smile to your face, tug at your heartstrings or make you laugh out loud. His descriptions are spot on. For example, pickup trucks are referred to as “The Chariots of My People” and Tupperware is called “The Wedgwood [crystal] of The South”. I had tears running down my face as I read about his pain after eating Nashville Hot Chicken that he was certain had been doused in ghost pepper and kerosene. He believes young people think George Strait is a land bridge between Russia and Alaska. At one point he describes his hair as “straight as a Lutheran with the consistency of a spiderweb.”
These tales remind us all the great storytellers we know, and make us believe that if it’s not the truth, it oughta be.
Rick Bragg says he “will write and write as long as somebody, anybody, wants me to, till we remind one more heartbroken ol’ boy of his grandfather, or educate one more pampered Yankee on the people of the pines.” Thank you, Rick, I long to hear more. For as you so aptly state “nostalgia is our sanctuary in sorry times.”
5-Stars. This book will make an excellent gift. It is truly a keeper.
Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Random House for my Advanced Reader Copy. The expected publication date is October 27, 2020. Be sure to put it on your To Be Read List.