The top 100 memoirs list we are constructing here is not a scientific one. At the rate we are going, 81 posts in 9 months, and only 18 reviews so far, it will take five years to get to 100 memoirs! I’ve read many more than I have reviewed and have an entire bookcase of read and unread memoir waiting to be revealed to my gentle readers. But since Ms. Memoir is already 60 years old, she needs some guidance about what subjects readers most want to know about.
Originally I thought I would review books almost exclusively. Now, however, I have developed a whole list of other diverting memoir topics–see categories on the right-hand side. The political campaign provided more grist for the memoir mill than I could every have imagined. And then there’s life. I notice in the tag cloud that mini-memoir has become the largest category. I also notice that I seem to get more comments on mini-memoir than on reviews. Hmmmm.
Since this is the second Rick Bragg book I read in a little more than a week, I won’t write as much about this one as I did his first memoir, All Over but the Shoutin’. The bottom line: this one is just as good as the first.
You can tell a lot about a book by the kinds of review excerpts gleaned from other writers and printed on the back cover or opening pages of a book. Here’s a sample. Notice how many people try to come up with Southern witticisms to match Bragg’s own style:
“As toothsome as a catfish supper: [Bragg] is every bit the equal of Harper Lee and Truman Capote.”–People
“Rick Bragg has once more gone to the well of his family’s history and drawn readers a story that goes down like a long drink of sweet spring water–with a little taste of whiskey on the side.”–Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“Rich in the raw materials of character and local color, enhanced by language marked with extravagance and economy–and the born storyteller’s gift for knowing when to be lavish with words and when to be lean.”–St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Bragg writes like his grandfather drank. . . .He cuts loose with wonderful flowing descriptive floods. . .that can cripple another writer with envy.”–The Miami Herald
It’s as though these reviewer’s remember their own granddaddy telling them to avoid a pissing contest with a skunk–but they can’t help themselves. And in fact, they admire the skunk’s perfume.
So, this “review” is not much more than a teaser this time. All you need to know is that Rick Bragg tells a great story and that his innovation in this book is to “create” a grandfather he never knew out of family reunions, photographs, and interviews with his relatives and friends. He illustrates one more motive for writing a memoir–getting to know the ancestor you never met in life.
Readers, I’d love some feedback to the categories on this blog:
Is the mix of reviewing, reflecting, and commenting on the news:
A. About right
B. Too much reviewing
C. Too little reviewing
D. Too many mini-memoirs
E. Not enough mini-memoirs
F. Too much social commentary
G. Not enough social commentary