Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Books

What's Rick Bragg reading?

Nightstand

Rick Bragg

In My Southern Journey, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and former Tampa Bay Times reporter Bragg, 56, pays homage to the South with countless colorful passages, including this one: "I love all-night gospel singings and flea markets four miles wide, and hounds that wail on the mountainside while the raccoons they chase double back on the trail and steal the cat food off the front porch.'' Bragg, the recipient of the 2009 Harper Lee Award for Alabama's Distinguished Writer of the Year, is a professor of writing in the journalism department at the University of Alabama. His other work includes Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story as well as a trilogy on his family in Calhoun County, Ala.: All Over But the Shoutin', Ava's Man and The Prince of Frogtown.

What's on your nightstand?

Larry McMurtry's The Last Kind Words Saloon, H. Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines and I just reread Dixie City Jam by James Lee Burke last week. People get on him and say he writes the same book over and over, but I think he's great.

Can you talk about McMurtry's writing?

He has a richness that seems so effortless. You know some people would argue Cormac McCarthy is the great living writer of the American West, but I'd disagree. McCarthy has such unrelenting darkness in his work that for me it can be very difficult to read. McMurtry has incredible violence and meanness, but there's a place where you draw a breath here and there. You laugh out loud, and then he just happens to write about Texas. I mean The Last Picture Show could have been in Macon or the country where I'm from. It's only the landscape that's different, but the people are the same.

What do you encourage your students to read?

First, we don't have a captive audience in newspapers and magazines anymore, so we have to write the hell out of everything, the soft feature and the profile and the sports story. So, I tell my students to read, to put the phone down, to turn off the electronic device unless they're reading The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens on it, and to read good literary magazines and good regional magazines, to read Garden & Gun and Southern Living, and if sports is their thing to devour monthlies and weeklies. Read Sports Illustrated and ESPN Magazine. I learned to write by reading old dog-eared copies of Sports Illustrated and reading about Ali and Frazier. I also tell them there's not a brick wall between literature and journalism. Read what they love. If it's science fiction or the classics, read them. I read a lot of Charles Dickens. This time of year I always read A Christmas Carol. Read everything. I read Pat Conroy and love the way he shows dysfunction, and I read Willie Morris for the South and Ron Rash to see how writing can be like poetry.

Contact Piper Castillo at [email protected] Follow @Florida_PBJC.

Comments
Mystery writer Lee Goldberg, author of ‘True Fiction,’ talks Agatha Christie, and more

Mystery writer Lee Goldberg, author of ‘True Fiction,’ talks Agatha Christie, and more

NightstandLee GoldbergGoldberg, the author of 30 books, has also been a writer and producer for several TV shows, including Monk and Diagnosis Murder. His new novel is True Fiction, an Ian Ludlow mystery. When we caught up with him by phone recently ...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/21/18
Events: SunLit Festival concludes with Jack Kerouac event, Antiquarian Book Fair and more

Events: SunLit Festival concludes with Jack Kerouac event, Antiquarian Book Fair and more

Book Talk The fourth annual SunLit Festival concludes today with these events. For information, go to facebook.com/sunlitfestival or keepstpetelit.org/sunlit-festival. All events are in St. Petersburg. • 37th annual Florida Antiquarian Book F...
Published: 04/20/18
Review: Gilbert King’s ‘Beneath a Ruthless Sun’ a compelling, horrifying look at Florida’s racist history

Review: Gilbert King’s ‘Beneath a Ruthless Sun’ a compelling, horrifying look at Florida’s racist history

If Willis McCall were a fictional character, he’d be too far over the top to be believable. Readers (and editors) would scoff that no one could be such a monster of violent, unabashed racism — and get away with it for so long. But McCall...
Published: 04/20/18
Notable: Advice-givers write about their own life choices

Notable: Advice-givers write about their own life choices

NotableSince you askedThree women whose jobs involve giving advice write about navigating their own life choices.Can’t Help Myself: Lessons & Confessions From a Modern Advice Columnist (Grand Central) by Meredith Goldstein, the Love Letters columnist...
Published: 04/20/18
Rachel Slade talks books, magic hands in the library and the sinking of El Faro

Rachel Slade talks books, magic hands in the library and the sinking of El Faro

NightstandRachel SladeIn her new book, Into the Raging Sea, Slade gives an in-depth account of the tragic sinking of the El Faro, the Jacksonville-based container ship plummeted to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean during Hurricane Joaquin. While rese...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/21/18
Book review: James Comey wants to explain himself

Book review: James Comey wants to explain himself

In 2016, as the director of the FBI, James Comey publicly dissected Hillary Clinton’s email server controversy. Later, we learned that Comey was keeping to himself the beginnings of an investigation into Russia’s active interference in the U.S. elect...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Review: Richard Powers’ ‘Overstory’ an ever-branching story of humans and trees

Review: Richard Powers’ ‘Overstory’ an ever-branching story of humans and trees

Henry David Thoreau once heaved a big stone against the trunk of a chestnut tree to bring down a shower of nuts. He loved their sweet meat, but the meal filled him with guilt. "It is worse than boorish, it is criminal, to inflict an unnecessary injur...
Published: 04/18/18
Florida historian Jack E. Davis wins Pulitzer Prize for ‘The Gulf’’

Florida historian Jack E. Davis wins Pulitzer Prize for ‘The Gulf’’

Florida got a shoutout from the Pulitzer Prizes on Monday: The 2018 literary prize for history was awarded to University of Florida professor Jack E. Davis for his book The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea.Davis, who grew up in Pinellas County and...
Published: 04/16/18
Notable: Lose yourself in books that reimagine tales and legends

Notable: Lose yourself in books that reimagine tales and legends

NotableLegends 2.0Three new books offer striking reimaginings of the tales and legends of different cultures. Children of Blood and Bone (Henry Holt and Co.) by Tomi Adeyemi is a debut YA novel of epic magical adventure with characters based on the O...
Published: 04/13/18
Hey, book lovers: SunLit Festival continues with events aplenty

Hey, book lovers: SunLit Festival continues with events aplenty

Lots of things to do for literary-minded folks in Tampa Bay, and most of them are free.
Published: 04/12/18