Ava’s Man by Rick Bragg

Written Word Wednesday – April 22 (Yes, I know it's Thursday, but just pretend it's Wednesday okay?

Rick Bragg recounts the life of his grandfather in Ava's Man, his second book.

He was just a man, I guess, whose wings never quite fit him right, who built dozens of pretty houses for Depression-era wages and never managed to build one for the people he loved the most, who could not read but always asked Ava to read him the newspaper so he would not be ignorant, who held iron bars and babies in his massive hands and called my momma "Pooh Boy," which makes me smile.

He died in the spring of 1958, one year before I was born.

I have never forgiven him for that. (From the prologue.)

Bragg masterfully pieces together the story and life of a grandfather he never met in Ava's Man. A grandfather who others held in such high esteem that it was years after his death before his children could even talk about without tears. Many hours spent listening to stories from family and friends gave him a glimpse of the amazing story of the man revered by so many.

Bragg's grandfather, Charlie Bundrum, raised his family in the midst of the depression and worked with his hands almost until he died. His is a story of a sort of man you find very few of these days. An adored, hard working father and husband who had a soft spot for good moonshine and  those in need even though he and his family were what we would now consider "those in need". 

Bragg brings together the stories of his grandfather's life that paints a picture of a type of man who here in the south becomes a sort of legend for those who knew him. A roofer by trade and mooshiner on the side, nothing was more important to him than his family. Never ashamed of his status in life, he lived life to the fullest.

Bragg writes, "What kind of man was this, I wondered, who is so beloved, so missed, that the mere mention of his death would make them cry forty-two years after he was preached into the sky? "

Again Bragg's magical way with the written word permeates the book and takes you back in time to a lost era.  Not only is it the story of his grandfather, it is also the story of many in the south during the depression and following years. It's not only a biography, but a history of life for many men in the south during those years.

I loved reading Ava's Man again to share here with you. Check your library or pick it up at your bookstore. You won't be dissappointed.


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