The Prince of Frogtown Author:Rick Bragg In this final volume of the beloved American saga that began with All Over but the Shoutin’ and continued with Ava’s Man, Rick Bragg closes his circle of family stories with an unforgettable tale about fathers and sons inspired by his own relationship with his ten-year-old stepson. — He learns, right from the start, that... more » a man who chases a woman with a child is like a dog who chases a car and wins. He discovers that he is unsuited to fatherhood, unsuited to fathering this boy in particular, a boy who does not know how to throw a punch and doesn’t need to; a boy accustomed to love and affection rather than violence and neglect; in short, a boy wholly unlike the child Rick once was, and who longs for a relationship with Rick that Rick hasn’t the first inkling of how to embark on. With the weight of this new boy tugging at his clothes, Rick sets out to understand his father, his son, and himself.
The Prince of Frogtown documents a mesmerizing journey back in time to the lush Alabama landscape of Rick’s youth, to Jacksonville’s one-hundred-year-old mill, the town’s blight and salvation; and to a troubled, charismatic hustler coming of age in its shadow, Rick’s father, a man bound to bring harm even to those he truly loves. And the book documents the unexpected corollary to it, the marvelous journey of Rick’s later life: a journey into fatherhood, and toward a child for whom he comes to feel a devotion that staggers him. With candor, insight, tremendous humor, and the remarkable gift for descriptive storytelling on which he made his name, Rick Bragg delivers a brilliant and moving rumination on the lives of boys and men, a poignant reflection on what it means to be a father and a son.« less
I have forgotten just how powerful, how raw, how magical and how simply beautiful Rick Bragg's writing is. I never experienced the kind of life Rick had, never knew privations like his people did, never saw the rough side of life or experienced the spirit quenching miseries that they did.
...so why do I relate so much to it?
The best I can come up with is that reading Rick Bragg is like pulling back an unhealed scab and watching it bleed all over again. In the same way, it can sometimes hurt to read Bragg, but once you start, you can't stop until you peel away the final pages. His writing exposes what's deepest inside us; what hurts we nurse in secret, what dreams we cherish that might not come to fruition, what pain we can't let go of. This sounds trite and melodramatic as I type it, but it's only because I don't have the words or the ability to express how Bragg's writing affects me. I spent 20 solid minutes sobbing after I finished this book, and the next 20 minutes thinking about why I sobbed, and a final 20 minutes trying to come to terms with it and get some sleep. Frankly, I have no answers, except to say that Bragg speaks my language. His story about comimg to terms with his father is one I understand - but in a different way. He lost his father to alcohol. I lost mine to death. His father was an absent SOB. Mine was just absent.
The bottom line: we've all got issues in life. Bragg writes about them with the soul of a poet. He's a true Southern storyteller, and man, what a story he has to tell.
This book was a little different from Bragg's other memoirs. I think he had a difficult time with this one because he seemed to find out that his father wasn't as bad a man as he believed. You could tell in his writing that he was struggling with what he found out from his father's friends. In the end, he came to realize that he was more than just a worthless drunk.
Each chapter included hilarious stories about about Bragg's youngest stepson stepson. They also gave insight into how he had a hard time relating to him because he was growing up so differently from the way Bragg grew up.
If you enjoyed the other two books then I highly recommend this one. Just remember that it's a little different from his norm. I plan on adding this one to my library along with All Over but the Shoutin' and Ava's Man.