The day was cold. The day was a day for scarves (hence Traveling With T’s very fetch scarf!) The day was November 18th, 2014 and it was the day I met Rick Bragg- a storyteller of epic proportions.
I knew of Rick Bragg. Kinda. Vaguely. In a sense of I would hear others discuss him- but I was not familiar with his work. So, when Beth, a new friend of mine, asked me to attend the Rick Bragg book signing at TurnRow Books, I decided to drive over and see him for myself. And, boy was I glad I did.
Rick’s latest book is about Jerry Lee Lewis- a man that I am about as familiar with as I was Rick Bragg (I know Great Balls of Fire and a couple other songs, know that he is a Mississippi rock & roller, and a few other tidbits). I now know more about him after listening to Rick talk and reflect on the 3 year writing process of this latest book. You may wonder why I would go- since I apparently am not a crazy fan of Jerry Lee Lewis? A little birdie told me that a friend would like a book of Rick’s- AVA’S MAN- and when I found that out- that I could meet and see what the fuss was AND pick up a signed copy of AVA’S MAN- well, it was a done deal.
So what did I learn:
Well when Jamie, owner of TurnRow Books introduced Rick Bragg and spoke of his latest writing project, he referenced that the collaboration between Rick and Jerry Lee Lewis was a “perfect combo- a great Mississippi icon and great writer!”
- What did Rick Bragg keep out of the Jerry Lee Lewis book? Jerry Lee Lewis told him a story about one of his sons dying and the words he said to his son at the funeral- while Rick Bragg mentions the funeral, he keeps the words that Jerry said out of the book- he says that a moment that just belongs to Jerry Lee Lewis.
- Rick Bragg says that Jerry Lee Lewis has lived a “Southern Gothic Life.”
- Took 3 years to write the book- Rick jokes “brought the advance down to minimum wage.”
- Rick Bragg and his editor fought over what the Jerry Lee Lewis book was ultimately about: The editor wanted more about his musical life, more like a comprehensive musical anthology or a great icon; and Rick was wanting to spend time including the more Southern Gothic tale stories. Ultimately, Rick told us at the signing, “It had to be both.”
- At the end of his talk he told the crowd: “If you find a dull page in the book, I’ll eat it.”
Overall thoughts- if you have the chance to go and see Rick Bragg- run, don’t walk to take part in it. Charming, funny, and quite memorable!
Happy Reading and Bookishly Yours,
T @ Traveling With T