Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Prince of Frogtown
The voice of a real Southern story teller is not one soon forgotten. For that reason alone, I was excited to read Rick Bragg's third memoir about his "white trash" Southern family. The first, All Over but the Shoutin' was one I recently reviewed and enjoyed very much. It was about his mother, a heroic, tough woman raising her sons in hard circumstances. The second book is called Ava's Man, about his grandmother and the loss of her one true love. I have not reviewed it but would certainly recommend it as much as the other two. Finally there is this book, The Prince of Frogtown, which is about Bragg's father.
Bragg admits that he fought for many years against writing about his father, who abandoned his family early on and was an alcoholic. He didn't want to write about a father that had not given him much thought, at least so it seemed to him. But this book takes the reader on an interesting journey, as Bragg becomes the stepfather of a boy and is reminded of his own father. He explores the good and bad sides of the man, listening to stories of those who loved him despite the drinking. It is about a man that made many mistakes, some unforgivable, and yet he had many good qualities and he did good things too. I've always loved stories that show a person for what they truly are, all the parts together instead of just one skewed view. Bragg does not really get to a point of total forgiveness, but he comes to better understand his father, and at least give him credit for the good he did.
This book has the rich Southern voice that Bragg has in his other books, and I like how he intersperses his past with his present stepfather experiences. It feels like I was brought along for a ride of self-discovery and an opening of the heart to again be reminded that it is not us to judge another until we have truly walked in their shoes.