In spring of 2001, a community of people in the Appalachian foothills came to the edge of all they had ever been. Across the South, padlocks and logging chains bound the doors of silent mills, and it seemed a miracle to blue-collar people in Jacksonville, Alabama, that their mill survived. The century-old hardwood floors still trembled under whirling steel, and people worked on in a mist of white air. The mill had become almost a living thing, rewarding the hard-working and careful with the best payday they ever had, but punishing the careless and clumsy, taking a finger, a hand, more. The mill preceded the automobile, the airplane, and they served it even as it filled their lungs with lint and shortened their lives. In return, it let them live in stiff-necked dignity in the hills of their fathers. In these real-life stories, Rick Bragg brilliantly evokes the hardscrabble lives of those who lived and died by an American cotton mill.
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RICK BRAGG is the author of three best-selling books, Ava s Man, All Over but the Shoutin , and The Prince of Frogtown. As a feature writer for the New York Times, he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1996 for his elegantly written stories about contemporary America. He divides his time between New Orleans and his native Alabama.From AudioFile:
Rick Bragg warns us in his introduction that these are not happy stories, and he is right. They are, however, stories worth hearing and knowing, in the tradition of James Agee's LET US NOW PRAISE FAMOUS MEN. Bragg's work memorializes the community of Jacksonville, Alabama, and its way of life, and he reads it in its own voice and language. Southern speech doesn't rush, and it may take a while to get used to Bragg's pace and pauses. But he grew up among the mill hands he writes about and, while he doesn't distinguish the different characters as an actor would and doesn't always make clear where quotations begin and end, he does bring them lovingly to life. D.M.H. © AudioFile 2009, Portland, Maine
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