Ava’s Man

Random House

Rick Bragg, NYT Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, author of All Over But the Shoutin’, and good old boy from Alabama.

Central Theme
Among the working poor are those whose lives are selfless, values set internally, cultural influences hard and tough; when some people see Charlie they’ll see the likker, but those who know him see the love.

Rick Bragg’s mom raised three boys’ dirt poor and always put them first. She’d wait to eat until she was sure they had enough to eat, and then she’d strap ¢â‚¬Ëœem on her hip and take them to work in the cotton fields. Her life was shaped by her mother Ava and by Charlie, the grandfather Rick never met. When he asked his three Aunts about Charlie Bundrum forty-two years later the mere mention of his death would cause them to cry. Turns out the silence about Charlie was reverential When Daddy came in the door “the sky had cleared.”

Ava’s man is a riotous and moving recollection of the kind of man of which Travis Bundrum said; “there ain’t no more like him. All his kind are gone.” Charlie was tough as nails, a fighter, scrapper, moonshiner and roofer, but above all a protector and provider for his family and friends like the hapless Hootie. Charlie was illiterate but could read people like a book. The stories Bragg tells seem from another century but Charlie died in the 1950’s and lived-out his life in the South during the depression in a time when men still fought hard, shot at each other, buck danced and fished from trot lines. It’s a man worth getting to know in a place worth a visit in this colorful memoir.

Beliefs num
–Tough people survive tough times.
–The poor can display character and determination beyond our understanding.
–Some people believe the Bible and other things too.
–For some people ¢â‚¬ËœFight Club’ was a way of life.
–A man can drink hard, live tough and possess a keen mind, tender heart and loyalty beyond measure.

Questions Worth Discussing num
–What have we lost of essential human-ness in the comparatively ¢â‚¬Ëœeasy’ economic times of today?
–How do you explain the fact that Ava was raised in a strict religious home, yet never met a man who would talk to her and provide and protect like Charlie a moon-shiner?
–Can a man like Charlie follow Jesus and retain his essential personality?

Provocative Quotes byline
–Daddy would come in the door and it was like the sky had cleared.
==Charlie’s daughters.
–The people were almost as wild as the country, and their language alone could knock a regular God-fearing person flat on their back. It was not that they didn’t believe in the Bible, its just they believed in other things too.
==Charlie and Ava’s religion.
–What kind of man is 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? A man like that, I thought to myself, probably deserves a book.
==Rick after asking his Aunt’s about Charlie.
–He ought to have a monument, because there ain’t no more like him. All his kind are gone.
==Great nephew Travis Bundrum.
–We are here because our ancestors were too damned hardheaded to adapt, to assimilate. We are here because someone with a name very much like Bundrum (Jean Pierre Bondurant) pick4ed a fight with the King of France, and the Church of Rome.
==RB about family history.
–He was blessed with that beautiful, selective morality that we Southerners are famous for.
==RB about Charlie.
–Here. The people knew, a man sometimes just needed killing, and if it were more or less unanimous, the kilt man was buried quietly and no one ever saw any reason to call the law. Here, Ava would need every scrap of Bible she knew.
==RB on Bundrum household.
–She always knew she had found something in this man that she had never seen in another, certainly not in any of the Congregational Holiness she had known since birth. He talked to her. He did not grunt about crops and scripture. He talked.
–People with deep roots stood fast in the doorways of ancestral homes and lost everything. People without roots, the wanderers like Charlie Bundrum, drifted with the times, and survived.
==Southern Depression.
–Margeret I want to tell you something. I’m saved. The Lord has saved me. I went to bed but could not sleep. I kept hearing this music, but I couldn’t tell where it was coming from. So I walked outside, and saw that the music was coming from above, from where I guess Heaven is. And then I heard a voice tell me that this was my last chance. I just wanted to tell you I was saved.
==Charlie tells his daughter about his salvation experience.
–Then we walked down to Jame’s house and told James. He didn’t tote a Bible around after that, or go to church, or preach to anyone else. He just knew he was saved, just knew that voice in the sky was real. He knew he had to give up his sins and he did. He stopped drinking. He didn’t taper off. He stopped. It had to be God,. His daughters said it just had to be.
==RB recounts the effect of Charlie’s experience getting saved.

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