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Where I Come From: Stories from the Deep South


Where I Come From: Stories from the Deep South

Reading a Rick Bragg book is like sitting down with an old friend --- a cantankerous and frequently funny old friend. In WHERE I COME FROM, Bragg reflects on life in the South, including growing up there, the small things in life that make a difference, and the importance of traditions. This is a collection of some of his best columns written for Southern Living and Garden & Gun. His diehard fans will revel in revisiting their favorites, while newcomers will enjoy his wit and wisdom and his insight on a wide range of seemingly ordinary topics.

The genius of Bragg’s storytelling is his ability to spin a yarn that most people will connect with in some way regardless of where they grew up. While he writes about the South, his stories touch on universal themes --- the relative who made a difference, a favorite eatery or the memory that doesn’t quite hold up when revisited.

"WHERE I COME FROM is the perfect mix of humor and storytelling, and will delight and enthrall readers of all ages."

Bragg is careful to distance himself from the South that will not let go of its racist past and its inhabitants who refuse to live in the 21st century. Instead, he writes about everyday occurrences, such as failing at fishing, travel woes, leaving home, getting older and living in the modern world. The book is filled with stories about “the South’s gentler, easier nature. It is a litany of great talkers, blue-green waters, deep casseroles…and dogs that never die, things that make this place more than a dotted line on a map or a long-ago failed rebellion.” And he occasionally points out that memories are tricky and sometimes best left in the past.

Dedicated to his Aunt Jo, who he says was his biggest fan and read everything he ever wrote, WHERE I COME FROM is divided into themed sections that include musings on food, family, holidays, haunted mansions, sports and more.

Fans of older country music will relate to “There’s a Tear in My Beer” with Bragg’s disdain for new country music and his assertion that “[n]ew country music is as country as a black turtleneck, all hat and no cow…. I swear, if I was trapped for long in a vehicle with modern country on the radio, I would fling myself from the speeding car.” He goes so far as to claim that new country music is the source of all of his troubles.

Sports fans will see themselves in “A Word on Trash Talk,” as Bragg promises not to defy the sports gods and curse his team by “writing anything about anything that would make the opposing team mad, anything that football experts call, solemnly, ‘bulletin board material.’” And then he proceeds to cheerfully trash talk about his team’s biggest rivals, from their coaches to their girlfriends to their intellect. Other standouts include “This Means War,” “The Great Conroy,” “The Talker,” “Free Sprits” and “Driving Me Crazy.”

WHERE I COME FROM is the perfect mix of humor and storytelling, and will delight and enthrall readers of all ages. Upon reaching the final page, some may find themselves immediately starting the book over again (which is what this reviewer did).

Reviewed by Cindy Burnett on October 30, 2020

Where I Come From: Stories from the Deep South
by Rick Bragg

  • Publication Date: August 10, 2021
  • Genres: Essays, Humor, Nonfiction
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage
  • ISBN-10: 0593310802
  • ISBN-13: 9780593310809