Today I welcome TLC Book Tours back to my blog with a very different kind of dark comedy. I invite you to read my review, learn a little bit about the author, and visit the other stops on the book tour.
Daron is from a very small town in rural Georgia called Braggsville. When he graduates from high school he wants to get as far away from his isolated, small-minded town as soon as possible so he decides to attend Berkeley for college. Berkeley is a very different world, especially as far as its liberal politics are concerned, than he is used to in Georgia. He makes three close friends at Berkeley: Louis, an Asian from California, Candance, a farm girl from Iowa, and Charlie, an African-American from Chicago. Together they call their group the “four little Indians”.
I would classify Welcome to Braggsville as a dark comedy. Daron and his friends, while protesting a Civil War reenactment in Braggsville, make a very stupid, and tragic mistake. They are not mean or evil students, but just naïve and ignorant about the world. They are under the influence of the very liberal atmosphere at Berkeley and their own stupidity leads them to make decisions that have deadly consequences. There is also a lot of racial humor and jokes in the book and will definitely make readers uncomfortable.
Daron also spends a lot of time contemplating his life in a small, southern town, his memories of being a nerd in middle and high school, and his attempts to fit in once he is at Berkeley. Welcome to Braggsville is a social commentary on race as well as a coming-of-age story in which a young man tries to understand that learning right from wrong isn’t always easy.
The author uses a lot of slang and nicknames in the book. Those who enjoy correct punctuation and grammar can forget about seeing those rules followed in this book. There are commas in strange places, there are sentence fragments galore, and there are capital letters in places where they should not be. As one who enjoys traditional grammar and punctuation, I found this style tedious after about 100 pages.
Overall, WELCOME TO BRAGGSVILLE is a thought-provoking read about race, politics and coming of age. If you pick this book up and read it stop by and let me know what you think in the comments.
About The Author:
Born and raised in New Orleans, T. Geronimo Johnson received his M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and his M.A. in language, literacy, and culture from UC Berkeley. He has taught writing and held fellowships—including a Stegner Fellowship and an Iowa Arts Fellowship—at Arizona State University, the University of Iowa, UC Berkeley, Western Michigan University, and Stanford. His first novel, Hold It ‘Til It Hurts, was a finalist for the 2013 PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction. Johnson is currently a visiting professor at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He lives in Berkeley, California.
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