Posts tagged ‘New York City’
May 21, 2015
When writing a life of family history, we all struggle for the truth. But the truth is a funny thing. It’s shielded by feelings and clouded by memory.
In his 1997 memoir All Over but the Shoutin’, Rick Bragg writes of his childhood, growing up poor in the deep South, essentially fatherless, but supported by a hard-working mother and her family. He describes his restlessness, moving around before settling down as a journalist, never forgetting his kith and kin.
Bragg believes he was born to write. As he tells it, “The only thing I was ever any good at was in the telling and hearing of stories, and there was no profit in that. I cannot truthfully even say that I went to work for my high school newspaper because of a love for writing. Writing was hard work. It made your hand cramp, and I couldn’t type a lick. Telling stories was something you did on your porch.”
But telling stories also got Bragg writing assignments working for small town newspapers across the South. He eventually earned an award fellowship to Harvard University. The New York Times hired him as a journalist.
Of New York City, he writes, “Through one of the coldest, nastiest winters on record, I roamed that giant, confusing place, but to say I searched for stories would be a lie. I did not have to search. New York hurled stories at you like Nolan Ryan throws fastballs. All you had to do was catch them, and try not to get your head knocked off.”
Bragg won a Pulitzer for his writing, but his proudest moments came from telling the truth. Of his work he says, “It wasn’t that I had gotten it right – God knows I mess up a lot – but that I had gotten it true.”
© 2015 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved
September 13, 2014
Ask Me Anything, the memoir I wrote with Marie Rudisill, is available as an ebook. A Kindle Countdown is underway, starting at $.99 today. Then the price goes up each day. On Wednesday, it will be $8.99, its list price.
Why wait? See what Marie has to say – about her upbringing in the deep South, her nephew Truman Capote, taking on the Big Apple, giving the Big Orange a squeeze when she appeared on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” Well into her nineties she became a television celebrity, going mouth to mouth with anyone who asked her a question or sought help with a problem. She always had an answer on the tip of her tongue.
Here are a few of Marie’s many bon mots about the places she’s been and the people she’s met:
“I was certainly never one to play it safe. If I had wanted to play it safe, I would have stayed in Alabama.”
“In New York City where are the flowers? Where are the trees? If you open the window to get some fresh air, your apartment is filled with soot. You think you don’t have soot? Well, just run your finger over the windowsill and see what happens. That grimy, black stuff is soot.”
“I have met the most wonderful people in the world in the [publishing] business. Some of them have even lived in New York City.”
“I never got to experience the traffic for which Los Angeles is so famous. It was just as well, as I have a feeling that the stop and go pace would have driven me right up the wall.”
“Celebrities are people, too. They might live in big houses by the ocean and have more money than God, but they don’t deserve special attention in my book.”
“Florida is not a Southern state, not to me. It has no history, no civility, no gentility. It’s all flip flops, short shorts, and hairy legs.”
Ask “The Fruitcake Lady,” and get ready. You never know what she’ll say next.
© 2014 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved