Book Tour Review: Welcome to Braggsville by T. Geronimo Johnson

Thursday, March 5, 2015
Title: Welcome to Braggsville
Author: T. Geronimo Johnson
Series: N/A
Pages: 368
Published: February 17 2015
Source: TLC Book Tours for review
Rating: 3/5

Welcome to Braggsville. The City that Love Built in the Heart of Georgia. Population 712

Born and raised in the heart of old Dixie, D'aron Davenport finds himself in unfamiliar territory his freshman year at UC Berkeley. Two thousand miles and a world away from his childhood, he is a small-town fish floundering in the depths of a large, hyper-liberal pond. Caught between the prosaic values of his rural hometown and the intellectualized multicultural cosmopolitanism of Berzerkeley, the nineteen-year-old white kid is uncertain about his place until one disastrous party brings him three idiosyncratic best friends: Louis, a "kung-fu comedian" from California; Candice, an earnest do-gooder claiming Native roots from Iowa; and Charlie, an introspective inner-city black teen from Chicago. They dub themselves the "4 Little Indians."

But everything changes in the group's alternative history class, when D'aron lets slip that his hometown hosts an annual Civil War reenactment, recently rebranded "Patriot Days." His announcement is met with righteous indignation, and inspires Candice to suggest a "performative intervention" to protest the reenactment. Armed with youthful self-importance, makeshift slave costumes, righteous zeal, and their own misguided ideas about the South, the 4 Little Indians descend on Braggsville. Their journey through backwoods churches, backroom politics, Waffle Houses, and drunken family barbecues is uproarious to start, but will have devastating consequences.

With the keen wit of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk and the deft argot of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, T. Geronimo Johnson has written an astonishing, razor-sharp satire. Using a panoply of styles and tones, from tragicomic to Southern Gothic, he skewers issues of class, race, intellectual and political chauvinism, Obamaism, social media, and much more.

A literary coming-of-age novel for a new generation, written with tremendous social insight and a unique, generous heart, Welcome to Braggsville reminds us of the promise and perils of youthful exuberance, while painting an indelible portrait of contemporary America.

Welcome to Braggsville is vivid, striking, and hard to put down. With a unique style and distinct voice, T. Geronimo Johnson has created something pretty memorable here. It's a surprisingly far-reaching and delicate novel; filled with interesting but unknowable characters and unexpected turns of plot. Welcome to Braggsville is not easily digested, but it will make you think.

Johnson can write, and write well. It's obvious early on how much care has been taken and how deft his authorial touch is upon the story. The voice crafted is indelible and the strongest aspect the novel has to offer. It's eye-catching and intriguing; lends well to the long-winded style of story and still fills the novel with atmosphere. He also manages to make his story dark and comedic and sometimes, darkly comedic. The social commentary is often spot-on and the wry observations about life, youth, and growing up were particularly good.

The book can feel a little wayward at times. The plot can get lost in the random and varied tangents the narrator relates as the book builds. The technique is both a boon and a con for Welcome to Braggsville; when the related anecdote fit, it fit the story well. Other times, it can feel unnecessary and detract from the meat of the novel. There's also an emotional distance between the reader and the characters that's never really bridged. I was invested in the outcome, but only remotely. Aside from the shock factor, I never really cared about any of these characters (no matter how interesting and introspective or dumb and silly they also were).

This isn't a book for everyone. It feels very lit fic in that the characters are unknowable and removed, but the writing is superb and the voice is unforgettable. T. Geronimo Johnson has a lot to say here in Welcome to Braggsville and I know this book will find a home among readers who choose to listen.

Tour Stops

Tuesday, February 17th: Book Hooked Blog

Thursday, February 19th: Book Loving Hippo

Friday, February 20th: Open Book Society

Monday, February 23rd: Man of La Book

Wednesday, February 25th: The Book Binder’s Daughter

Thursday, February 26th: missris

Monday, March 2nd: Books à la Mode

Tuesday, March 3rd: Books and Bindings

Thursday, March 5th: Ageless Pages Reviews

Friday, March 6th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews

Monday, March 9th: The Feminist Texican [Reads]

1 comment:

  1. It's interesting that you felt so remote from the characters yet still couldn't put the book down. This is certainly a unique book!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!


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