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Publisher's Summary

Charlie Bundrum was a roofer, a carpenter, a whiskey-maker, a fisherman who knew every inch of the Coosa River, made boats out of car hoods and knew how to pack a wound with brown sugar to stop the blood. He could not read, but he asked his wife, Ava, to read him the paper every day so he would not be ignorant. He was a man who took giant steps in rundown boots, a true hero whom history would otherwise have overlooked.


In the decade of the Great Depression, Charlie moved his family 21 times, keeping seven children one step ahead of the poverty and starvation that threatened them from every side. He worked at the steel mill when the steel was rolling, or for a side of bacon or a bushel of peaches when it wasn't. He paid the doctor who delivered his fourth daughter, Margaret - the author's mother - with a jar of whiskey. He understood the finer points of the law as it applied to poor people and drinking men; he was a banjo player and a buck dancer who worked off fines when life got a little sideways, and he sang when he was drunk, where other men fought or cussed. He had a talent for living. His children revered him. When he died, cars lined the blacktop for more than a mile.


Rick Bragg has built a soaring monument to the grandfather he never knew - a father who stood by his family in hard times and left a backwoods legend behind - in an audiobook that blazes withi his love for his family, and for a particular stretch of dirt road along the Alabama-Georgia border. A powerfully intimate piece of American history as it was experienced by the working people of the deep South, a glorious record of a life of character, tenacity and indomitable joy, and an unforgettable tribute to a vanishing culture, Ava's Man is Rick Bragg at his stunning best.

©2001 by Rick Bragg (P)2001 Random House Inc., Random House AudioBooks, a Division of Random House Inc.

Critic Reviews

  • Audie Award Winner, Best Narration by Author or Authors

"A soulful, poignant portrait." (Publishers Weekly)

"No one writes about the South like Bragg...[his] empathy and humanity shine throughout." (Library Journal)

What listeners say about Ava's Man

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Deeply moving

I saw Rick Bragg on a Sunday morning interview show and immediately downloaded his book. This book is simultaneously amusing, humbling, deeply moving, and inspiring. Mr. Bragg's engaging narration contributes significantly to the overall experience. I am eagerly awaiting access to his other novels.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Powerful Story of Family

I found the beginning of the book a bit disjointed and hard to follow, but once it settled in, I found myself enthralled in the story. Its the story of a simple man who did the best he could, and the people who loved him. Rick Bragg has a wonderful gift of telling a story.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

i liked it

a historical look at one families history - along with the way the economics and history of the era and area affected them - It was also interesting to hear the musings of the author relating his relatives experiences in the past to his own current activities.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Bragg reading his own work = great big treat

Rick Bragg delves into his family history, mostly to find out about his maternal grandfather, Charlie Bundrum, who he never met and no one in the family would talk much about. Bragg interviewed family members and then interlaced their memories to make Ava's Man. You actually learn much more about the Bundrum side of Bragg's family than you did in All Over But the Shoutin', which is about the author's mother (although it is substantially about the author's career in journalism). Great familial and regional lore. Sentence-to-sentence, Bragg just gets better with each book. And it is so marvelous to have Bragg read. When books have a Southern setting, the readers are generally not Southerners and feel they must try on a "Southern accent," which always ends up sounding like Foghorn Leghorn. Very distasteful. Great writing and fantastic reading.

3 people found this helpful

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Love the author and his grandfather too!

If you have ever loved a rascal, particularly a Southern rascal, then you will love this book. If you are a Daddy's girl, then you will love this book. It is a biography of Rick Bragg's grandfather, a most extraordinary man, and it is written by an extraordinary author whose bloodline runs true. Thank you, Mr. Bragg, for sharing Charlie with us... I loved him too.

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A Great Listen!

Great story and great read by a wonderful author/narrator. A tribute to his maternal grandfather who helped make him into the man he ultimately became. If you were a fan of The Glass Castle or Angela's Ashes's, you may want to give this a listen.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Great Writer

If you appreciate the southern voice, Rick Bragg is the guy for you. He has the knack of writing in a voice that many can speak but few can capture on paper. Great book. His previous book "All Over But The Shouting" is exceptional

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

More , and less, than expected

I would listen to Rick Bragg read anything! Being from the Deep South, and lately hearing all the northern transplants that have moved down here, I’d begun to wonder. I feel better now!
His story is not unlike lots of my kin, and in that I reveled, but the moonshine taking him away from his family at a young-ish age was sort of expected. I’ve seen it in my family, too.
But, as he says, family is family, and we are all we have. And we always stick together. This reminds me somewhat of the “Hillbilly Elegy,” book, that I enjoyed immensely.
For anyone that’s not heard/read that particular story, you might like it, too.
Now- I’m going to go make myself some biscuits, in Rick Bragg’s name!

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Another beautiful southern memoir

I am 45 years old and come from Northeast Louisiana. I grew up listening to the cicadas and surrounded by cotton fields. As a boy I loved my home. Loved craw fishing, hunting with my daddy and uncle’s, wandering in the deep thick woods, wood that were loud because they are full of life. But as a teenager I felt like the whole world was passing me by and that I was always going to be stuck in this world that lived by a clock slower than that of the “real world” I was not proud of where I come from like Rick is
After all my grandparents and great uncles and aunts died off, I’ve really got no reason to go back there now.
Ricks books bring me back to the South though and shines it in a light that is very honest but charming and special. Every time I read one of his books it makes me a little homesick. Thanks Rick. I am so glad that I’ve discovered your books. I absolutely love that you narrate your own books. It just lends an extra layer of charm to the dories that your telling. I’m a huge fan of your way of doin
what yer doin. Thanks Rick

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

So Enjoyable!

As with all of Rick Braggs books that I have listened to, this one is just as wonderful! Words alone can't describe the pure joy I get from listening to his books.
Rick Bragg has a clear and pleasant voice with a southern drawl.
I highly recommend this book.

1 person found this helpful