by Rick Bragg
This was the wordtrip.com book club selection #2 for April, 2004, though I suspect I was the only one to read it. Last summer Bragg's other book "All Over But the Shoutin'" was a Gwinnett Reads selection by my local library. I got in on the reading a bit late, but enjoyed the book so much that I've bought several copies of it for $1 from the library's used book store .
Ava's man is the story of Bragg's maternal grandfather, who he never knew. Bragg does an amazing job of bringing the poverty and strength of his family during the Great Depression to the page. The book is a series of little stories that all add up to paint a portait of Charlie Bundrum. He doesn't pull any punches it seems, Charlie wasn't a perfect man, but he was a good man who loved his family and helped those he could.
The stories of him coming home drunk are sadly amusing, mostly cause they don't end up with him hurting anybody... usually. The toughness of the times and the toughness of the people comes out in every page. They didn't always live long, but the da$# sure lived.
This is probably the best book I've read this year, and one of the best ever. If you've got a family you love, or hate, or ever lived in the south... well I'm sure you'll find yourself nodding your head right along with the stories just like I did. I just can't recommend this book enough.
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