Monday, November 15, 2010
South of Broad, Pat Conroy
I've had SOUTH OF BROAD on my TBR pile since it came out but was saving it - as I often do with books I'm truly looking forward to - for a special occasion. The special occasion was that my book club needed an alternate book to read and I suggested this.
I dove right into it, but have to admit that if it weren't for the book club thing, I probably would have given it up two pages in. For some reason, the prologue, short as it was, rubbed me the wrong way and felt way too contrived for my liking. Not that it wasn't beautiful writing, it was. Not that it wasn't, in some ways, vintage Pat Conroy, it was.
But I'm a reader who reads for story. I read - and love - literary fiction, but I tend to shy away from those writers whose language overwhelms the story. So I took a step back from this book right away - beautiful language but I wasn't hooked. In fact, the opposite happened.
The good news is thanks to my book club. I forced myself to finish, painfully, slowly and with great disappointment in my hear, the first five pages. Two pages into Chapter 1 I was hooked and I read the entire book, all 462 glorious pages of it, in less than two days. I LOVED it. It made me laugh. It made me cry. It made me cringe with disgust and it made me howl with anger. I LOVED it.
This is a book that bowled me over from beginning to end. Once the story began, I didn't want to put it down. I had to in a couple of places because I was weeping so hard I couldn't see the type. I had to in another couple of places because I was so pissed off at the actions of a character that I wanted to smack that character across the head and say smarten up, you idiot.
Now that's better than good writing, that's fabulous writing. And thanks again to my book club. I would have put this book down and missed one of the best reading experiences I've ever had. Oh, I know I would have come back to it eventually, but I'm glad I didn't have to wait.