As a former Yankee living in the South, I often feel the need to apologize for the amount of things I don’t know about Southern culture. Things such as the shoe size of the quarterback of UT's football team, or how to fry catfish fillet. What is a catfish? Does okra grow on trees or bushes? I don’t know.
The good news is that native Alabamian Rick Bragg, author of books such as The Prince of Frogtown, All Over But The Shoutin’, and Ava’s Man, does know where okra comes from. His Southern expertise is one of the reasons why So Lit has asked Rick to kick off the first season of South Bound Distinguished Lectures.
Rick grew up in a community near Piedmont, Alabama called Possum Trot (if this does not convince you of his Southern pedigree, nothing will.) A few would say his writing career started when he joined the New York Times, but it really started as a child, listening to his family tell tales and stories. The love of story and writing led him to journalism, and to the offices of Possum Trot/Piedmont’s local paper: the Anniston Star. There he learned the ins-and-outs of the trade, covering local happenings. After punching the keys for a few other newspapers, he accepted a job at, you know, the New York Times. He spent most of his time at the Times covering major crimes such as the Oklahoma City Bombing and trial of Susan Smith, a woman eventually indicted for killing her two sons. It was his coverage of the custody and immigration of a young Cuban boy named Elián González that won him the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing.
Now, armed with multiple books and over fifty awards for his words, Rick teaches writing to young minds at the University of Alabama. He continues to write non-fiction books, humorous articles on topics like Southern football, and making videos titled, "What It Takes to Be a Writer" (see below). He’s a contributor to publications such as Southern Living and Garden and Gun.
All this to say, we’re thrilled he agreed to come and hang out with us in Chattanooga. He’ll be talking about his latest book, My Southern Journey, which released mid-September. The description from Barnes and Noble here:
“Keenly observed and written with his insightful and deadpan sense of humor, he explores enduring Southern truths about home, place, spirit, table, and the regions' varied geographies, including his native Alabama, Cajun country, and the Gulf Coast. Everything is explored, from regional obsessions from college football and fishing, to mayonnaise and spoonbread, to the simple beauty of a fish on the hook.
Collected from over a decade of his writing, with many never-before-published essays written specifically for this edition, My Southern Journey is an entertaining and engaging read, especially for Southerners (or feel Southern at heart) and anyone who appreciates great writing.”
Bragg’s lecture will take place January 21 at 5:00 PM. VIP, General Admission, and Student tickets available. General admission is $50. Students receive a discounted rate at $30 . However, we recommend going the VIP route. Why? Because purchasing a VIP ticket gets you into the festivities early. You’ll get to attend the VIP "happy hour" with Rick, receive reserved seating, and be given "fast track" superpowers at the book signing before the event. If you are interested in attending more South Bound lectures, check out the Season Subscription for a discounted rate.
There’s also the option to purchase tickets to attend a private fundraising dinner with Rick Bragg. Tickets cost $150 and include drinks, a five-course dinner, and a signed hardback copy of My Southern Journey. The meal will be prepared with local ingredients by the chefs at Easy Bistro, and the proceeds benefit the outreach programs of Southern Lit Alliance which bring a love of literary arts to thousands of kids in Chattanooga.
To buy tickets for the dinner and/or the lecture click here.
MORE ABOUT RICK:
A Review of My Southern Journey
An Excerpt from My Southern Journey
"Down Here," Bragg's ESPN article about Southern Football
MORE ABOUT SO LIT:
South Bound Distinguished Lectures
South Bound: Rick Bragg
Dave Connis is a Chattanooga author with his debut novel, The Temptation of Adam, coming out in 2017. When he’s not writing books, he’s writing music, and when he’s not writing music, he’s probably stressing out about the amount of things he ignored to write books and music. You can follow him on Twitter @daveconnis or find him on the web at www.daveconnis.com.