Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Pat Conroy



Pat Conroy - Author of The Boo, The Water is Wide, The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline, The Prince of Tides, Beach Music, My Losing Season, The Pat Conroy Cookbook: Recipes of My Life, and South of Broad.

If you've ever stopped by Meanderings and Muses before,  you're already aware of my love of Mr. Pat
Conroy's work.  And chances are you've already read everything I've written about him - some of which, in honor of his blog tour being put on by TLC Book Tours - I'm posting yet again.  He is, after all, my literary hero.  Mine along with about 20 beezillion other folks.  But, I'm the one who gushes.  I do not know when to hush (many of you already know this, right?), so I'm just gonna get on with it . . .

There are reasons why people love this man.  There's his work, of course, but there's also the man himself.  I had the pleasure of meeting him one time.  Only once, and very shortly.  But I can tell you, from that one meeting, that he is one of the most endearing, totally charming, captivating people anyone could ever hope to have the opportunity of encountering.

Charisma is a trait some are born with.  There's no faking it.  It's a sparkle that comes from within and wraps itself around those lucky enough to be in the vicinity of one in possession of it.  "It" is in no short supply when it comes to Pat Conroy - he fairly glimmers with the joy of life and the effervescence of genius.  His interest in, and observation of, everyone around him is immediately obvious, and you see a speck of what might be one of the key ingredients of what makes him the writer he is.  Magic.

And if you'll bear with me, please, I'm going to repeat my Pat Conroy story.  Perhaps one of these days I'll get to meet him again, then I can quit telling this one and replace it with a newer one.  Maybe.

When Donald and I were still living in Atlanta, Mr. Conroy did a signing of "Beach Music," and we, of course, went to Mr. Conroy's signing. My first edition, personally inscribed and autographed copy of this marvelous book is one of my life's treasures. As is remembering the conversation we had regarding Fripp Island. While we waited in line, my Donald kept saying things like "now you need to talk to him - don't freeze up, tell him how much you admire his work, tell him you love Fripp Island - say something!!" So, when it came time to hand this great man my book, I spurted out "I love Fripp Island. Wish I lived there." (brilliant, huh?! pfft). Mr. Conroy stood up, left his chair, came around the table, asked our names, shook our hands, leaned against the table and said "You know Fripp Island? Tell me how you know Fripp." I could have died. But I rambled on at some length about how a group of very close friends would go to Fripp every year for Memorial Day weekend. How we would always rent the same big old house at the very tippy end of the island and how we did that for several years and how those weekends were some of the loveliest of my life. Without missing a beat, he said - "I've heard of you! Weren't you and your friends told to leave the island and never return?!" And threw his head back and laughed a big booming, from the soul, laugh. And so did I. That, of course, never happened, but that he could even just say such an outrageous thing, made me just want to laugh with him, and kneel at his feet. He then proceeded to chat with us at length about Fripp, and his love for the island, acting as though we were the only people in the room with him at the time. I was honored by his attentiveness, and completely in awe of his graciousness. If I had not been a huge fan before, that did it. He's funny, ever so personable, I just love him to bits and he is one of my heroes. We all need heroes.


So.  I'm honored and over the moon tickled to be included as one of the hosts on this tour.  You can see the entire schedule at TLC's webpage; and if you're as big a fan as I am, you'll be following the schedule right along with me.  I also recommend you stop by his official webpage which is chock full of fun and interesting stuff, including articles and interviews, including a couple of  videos.  AND a picture of his desk.  Yay!  You know, I've been asking my guest bloggers,
most of whom are mystery/crime fiction authors, to include pictures of their workspaces this year, so it just seems fitting that we include one of Mr. Conroy's.  Right?! 

TLC Book Tours tells us  - not surprisingly, that Mr. Conroy is too busy to really participate in the tour by writing guest posts. And that makes me kinda sad.  But.  There is a very slight possibility that he might be available to answer questions. I'm not sure I'd count on this, but it's lovely to think it "might" happen.  So why not leave a comment, then cross your fingers and click your heels and wish on a star and who knows, maybe Mr. Conroy will pop in and respond.  Well, it COULD happen!  Right?!

And, heck - even if he doesn't, through the generosity of Mr. Conroy's publisher,  I'm able to offer a give-away to one of you who does leave a comment. So, if you'd like your name entered in a drawing for a trade/paperback copy of "South of Broad" to be sent directly to the winning entrant by the publisher, please include your email address with your comment. (Random House will ship to US/Canadian addresses only). 

 


I would love to write a review about South of Broad.  That is, after all, what I'm supposed to be doing.  The simple fact of the matter is, I can't write a review worth beans.   What I can do is tell you that Mr. Conroy has given us more magic.

If you're already a fan, and you've already read Mr. Conroy's work, you'll know he shares secrets when he writes.  He writes characters who live life fuller than most - as I suspect Mr. Conroy does.  Along with their magic,  they harbor secrets.

The characters in South of Broad have secrets.  They are tragic and damaged.  They're believable.  They also possess the irreverent humor we've come to expect in Conroy characters and we fall in love with them as we lose ourselves in Conroy's dialogue and writing.  Writing  more poetic than mortals are meant to pen, I'm sure.  We soar when they soar, we shed tears when their dreams are shattered, but we never ever lose hope.  We may think we do - temporarily, but hope finds its way back; always.   Magic.

We're especially entranced by the lead character in this particular book from page one - the City of Charleston.

I have visited Charleston many times.  As a visitor, I always know there is much more to this beautiful, mysterious city than any visitor will ever see.  The secret walled gardens of the stunningly gorgeous homes speak volumes about her character.  Mimicking her secret gardens, Charleston's doors are firmly closed to those of us who visit simply to enjoy her beauty, her history, culture, fine restaurants and exquisite shops.  In "South of Broad," Mr. Conroy allows us to peek briefly behind those closed doors; and then we ask ourselves if it was worth it.  Did we really want to see the secrets?

Too late - they are now ours.  To live in our hearts forever.  Magically, we'll remember the secrets, along with the words, with deepest respect, and awe, and then we'll immediately start wishing for his next piece of work.

In addition to being a fan of Pat Conroy's, I'm an avid fan of most things southern.  You do not get any more southern than Charleston, South Carolina.  Nor do you get any more southern than Pat Conroy.  He is, as everyone knows, (as are so many of our sons of the south) - a born storyteller.  That he is blessed with this talent, and able to couple it with heartbreakingly beautiful writing is magic.  And it's a gift he generously shares with all of us.  It's a gift I will cherish and treasure forever, and forever in return send him huge thanks, for he has enriched my life.

Here's a little taste of the magic.  From page one of "South of Broad."  We meet our narrator, Leopold Bloom King.

"It was my father who called the city the Mansion on the River.

He was talking about Charleston, South Carolina, and he was a native son, peacock proud of a town so pretty it makes your eyes ache with pleasure just to walk down its spellbinding, narrow streets.  Charleston was my father's ministry, his hobbyhorse, his quiet obsession, and the great love of his life.  His bloodstream lit up my own with a passion for the city that I've never lost nor ever will.  I'm Charleston-born, and bred.  The city's two rivers, the Ashley and the Cooper, have flooded and shaped all the days of my life on this storied peninsula."


And here's a little more about SOUTH OF BROAD written by people who, unlike myself, do know how to write reviews - - -   

From TLC Book Tours:  "Leopold Bloom King has been raised in a family shattered—and shadowed—by tragedy. Lonely and adrift, he searches for something to sustain him and finds it among a tightly knit group of high school outsiders. Surviving marriages happy and troubled, unrequited loves and unspoken longings, hard-won successes and devastating breakdowns, as well as Charleston, South Carolina’s dark legacy of racism and class divisions, these friends will endure until a final test forces them to face something none of them are prepared for.

Spanning two turbulent decades, South of Broad is Pat Conroy at his finest: a masterpiece from a great American writer whose passion for life and language knows no bounds."

From Kirkus (starred review):  "[The] first novel in 14 years from the gifted spinner of Southern tales (Beach Music, 1995, etc.) – a tail-wagging shaggy dog at turns mock-epic and gothic, beautifully written throughout. The title refers, meaningfully, to a section of Charleston, S.C., and, as with so many Southern tales, one great story begets another and another. This one starts promisingly: ‘Nothing happens by accident.' Indeed. The Greeks knew that, and so does young Leopold Bloom King. It is on Bloomsday 1969 that 18-year-old Leo learns his mother had once been a nun. Along the way, new neighbors appear, drugs make their way into the idyllic landscape and two new orphans turn up ‘behind the cathedral on Broad Street.' The combination of all these disparate elements bears the unmistakable makings of a spirit-shaping saga. The year 1969 is a heady one, of course, with the Summer of Love still fresh in memory, but Altamont on the way and Vietnam all around. Working a paper route along the banks of the Ashley River and discovering the poetry of place, Leo gets himself in a heap of trouble, commemorated years later by the tsk-tsking of the locals. But he also finds out something about how things work and who makes them work right – or not. Leo's classic coming-of-age tale sports, in the bargain, a king-hell hurricane. Conroy is a natural at weaving great skeins of narrative and this one will prove a great pleasure to his many fans."

From Booklist:  "An unlikely group of Charlestonian teens forms a friendship in 1969, just as the certainties and verities of southern society are quaked by the social and political forces unleashed earlier in the decade. They come from all walks of life, from the privileged homes of the aristocracy, from an orphanage, from a broken home where an alcoholic mother and her twins live in fear of a murderous father, from the home of public high school's first black football coach, and from the home of the same school's principal. The group's fulcrum, Leopold Bloom King, is just climbing out of childhood mental illness after having discovered his handsome, popular, athletic, scholarly older brother dead from suicide. Over the next two decades, these friends find success in journalism, the bar, law enforcement, music, and Hollywood. Echoing some themes from his earlier novels, Conroy fleshes out the almost impossibly dramatic details of each of the friends' lives in this vast, intricate story, and he reveals truths about love, lust, class, racism, religion, and what it means to be shaped by a particular place, be it Charleston, South Carolina, or anywhere else in the U.S."

From Publisher's Weekly:  "Leopold Bloom King narrates a paean to his hometown and friends in Conroy's first novel in 14 years. In the late '60s and after his brother commits suicide, then 18-year-old Leo befriends a cross-section of the city's inhabitants: scions of Charleston aristocracy; Appalachian orphans; a black football coach's son; and an astonishingly beautiful pair of twins, Sheba and Trevor Poe, who are evading their psychotic father. The story alternates between 1969, the glorious year Leo's coterie stormed Charleston's social, sexual and racial barricades, and 1989, when Sheba, now a movie star, enlists them to find her missing gay brother in AIDS-ravaged San Francisco. Some characters are tragically lost to the riptides of love and obsession, while others emerge from the frothy waters of sentimentality and nostalgia. Fans of Conroy's florid prose and earnest melodramas are in for a treat." 



AND 

ta DA -

I bring news!

You've probably already caught wind of this . . . 

but,

if not - - -

Guess What!

There's another gift on the way.

And it's called "My Life in Books"
and it's a memoir written by Pat Conroy.

scheduled for release in September of this year.

Hooray!!


 
Bestselling author Pat Conroy acknowledges the books that have shaped him and celebrates the profound effect reading has had on his life.

Pat Conroy, the beloved American storyteller, is also a vora­cious reader. He has for years kept a notebook in which he notes words or phrases, just from a love of language. But read­ing for him is not simply a pleasure to be enjoyed in off-hours or a source of inspiration for his own writing. It would hardly be an exaggeration to claim that reading has saved his life, and if not his life then surely his sanity.

In My Life in Books, Conroy revisits a life of passionate reading. He includes wonderful anecdotes from his school days, mov­ing accounts of how reading pulled him through dark times, and even lists of books that particularly influenced him at vari­ous stages of his life, including grammar school, high school, and college. Readers will be enchanted with his ruminations on reading and books, and want to own and share this perfect gift book for the holidays. And, come graduation time, My Life in Books will establish itself as a perennial favorite, as did Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go! 

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Nan A. Talese (September 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385533578
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385533577 

Laws, I hope I get an opportunity to meet this giant of a man one more time; my literary hero.  But if not - well then, I guess I just hope he'll continue writing for years to come.  Fiction and non.  His words truly are purely magical and we all need a little magic in our lives.  right?!


FTC Disclosure Notice:
SOUTH OF BROAD: A Novel
Pat Conroy
Nan A. Talese/Doubleday
Publication date: August 11, 2009
Price: $29.95
ISBN: 978-0-385-41305-3
I bought this book.
I was also sent a copy of this book by the publisher.
No payment of any kind has been made for my stated opinion.

 

    8 comments:

    Patricia said...

    Now would be a good time for me to admit that I have never read Mr. Conroy..I am one of those silly people that only read in their preferred genre, your comments make me want to pick up one of his books.

    Hurricane7@rogers.com

    Vicki Lane said...

    Conroy's a storyteller in the best Southern tradition -- a spellbinder.When I think back on some of his characters, I begin to get them confused with my kin.

    Jody said...

    I've read several of Mr. Conroy's books. Loved one, disliked another, and liked the others. Would love to get a copy of this one.
    Enjoyed your story of your meeting with him.

    jecbib@cox.net

    Judy Bobalik said...

    Patricia,
    You really should read Pat Conroy. He's one of the out of the genre writers I read.

    LisaMM said...

    You crack me up!! So much gushing, my oh my!

    Thank you so much for being on the tour and for being such a passionate fan!

    Kaye Barley said...

    Patricia, let me know which one you pick up and how you liked it, please! My faves are South of Broad and Beach Music, followed by Prince of Tides. However - I keep his cookbook on my nightstand! LOL! Not for the recipes, but for his essays, which I love.

    Vicki - you made me laugh. Because I get what you're saying, I think.

    Jody, I'd love to hear which you loved and which one you disliked if you'd care to share!

    Hey, Judy!!

    Lisa?! too much!??? LOL!!! thanks for having us as part of the tour - we loved it!

    Patricia said...

    well thanks to Kaye I will now be able to read one of these lovely books!! Thanks

    Kaye Barley said...

    Congratulations, Patricia!

    Let me know what you think, please!