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Ava's Man

by Rick Bragg

  • ISBN: 9780375410628
  • ISBN10: 0375410627

Ava's Man

by Rick Bragg

  • List Price: $25.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Random House Inc
  • Publish date: 08/01/2001
  • ISBN: 9780375410628
  • ISBN10: 0375410627
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Description: He was a man who made boats out of car hoods and used a broken branch as a fish stringer. He could not read, but he asked his wife Ava to read the paper to him every day so he would not be ignorant. He made his living as a carpenter and roofer, or plowing mules, doing stoop labor or sawmill work, and he ran off moonshine, burying his still in the woods. For a while he landed a good job rolling steel for real money in Gadsden, an industrial town along the Coosa. U.S Steel had 225,000 full-time employees in 1929 and zero four years later. It had changed the lives of a generation of Southerners who found that rolling steel was child's play compared to the backbreaking labor of the woods. And now it was changing them back.

Charlie and Ava moved 21 times in the decade of the Great Depression, ferrying their seven children, and their one good kerosene lamp, back and forth between Georgia and Alabama to tiny rented houses in the backwoods, where the Depression hardly mattered, at first, to families that were already eating cornbread seven days a week. Charlie would work for a side of bacon or a bushel of peaches; he paid the doctor who delivered his third daughter, Margaret, with a pint of whiskey.

But there was always music, and moonshine, and buckets of fish along the Coosa, and though families all around them were falling apart, Charlie Bundrum's children knew their family would not, they knew their father would let no harm come to them, ever, even if it meant standing on the porch with a shotgun. When he died, the cars lined the blacktop for more than a mile.

No one writes about the South like Rick Bragg. Once again, he lends his voice to the working people of the Deep South, and toa working class hero whom history would otherwise have ignored -- a man, Bragg says, who took giant steps in rundown boots, and whose culture, today, has all but vanished. The example he set gave Bragg's mother the tenacity and courage to raise three boys on her own, and Bragg's subsequent portrait of her has made her one of the most beloved characters in recent literature. His portrait of his grandfather -- magnificently written, ineradicably memorable -- will surely do the same.

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