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By Rick Bragg

A brand new York occasions awesome publication of the YearThis haunting, harrowing, gloriously relocating recollection of a existence at the American margin is the tale of Rick Bragg, who grew up dirt-poor in northeastern Alabama, likely destined for both the cotton generators or the prison, and as a substitute turned a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the recent York instances. it's the tale of Bragg's father, a hard-drinking guy with a murderous mood and the behavior of working out at the those that wanted him most.But on the heart of this hovering memoir is Bragg's mom, who went eighteen years with out a new costume in order that her sons can have college outfits and picked different people's cotton in order that her young children don't have to live to tell the tale welfare by myself. Evoking those lives--and the rustic that formed and nourished them--with artistry, honesty, and compassion, Rick Bragg brings domestic the affection and soreness that lie on the center of each family members. the result's unforgettable.

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3 3 Fake gold, other people’s houses, and the finest man I never knew rst memory I have is of a tall blond woman who drags a cotton sack along an undulating row of rust-colored Thecanvas ground, through a eld that seems to reach into the back forty of forever. I remember the sound it makes as it slides between the chest-high stalks that are so deeply, darkly green they look almost black, and the smell of kicked-up dust, and sweat. The tall woman is wearing a man’s britches and a man’s old straw hat, and now and then she looks back over her shoulder to smile at the three-year-old boy whose hair is almost as purely white as the bolls she picks, who rides the back of the six-foot-long sack like a magic carpet.

I know it because I asked my momma what they talked about all those times. “He talked about y’all, a little. ” I guess it is what you do if you grow up with warnings of damnation ringing from every church door and radio station and family reunion, in a place where total strangers will walk up to you at the Piggly Wiggly and ask if you are Saved. Even if you deny that faith, rebuke it, you still carry it around with you like some halfforgotten Indian head penny you keep in your pocket for luck. I wonder sometimes if I will be the same, if when I see my life coming to an end I will drop to my knees and search my soul for old sins and my memory for forgotten prayers.

Sam believes in taking life in his two hands and squeezing and pounding it until it gives you something, even if it’s just a little bit. But the important thing is to keep squeezing, keep pounding, keep working. I believe that to him those rusted, pitted hammers, rasps and crowbars not only remind him of the rst grown man who ever treated him with any kindness and love, but also represent a simple, basic principle of a man’s worth, one a man can live a whole life by. He would never say that, because he doesn’t talk that way, but I believe it to be so.

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