Set in Charleston, set between past 1960 s and present 1980s we follow the group of main characters as we learn how they came to be where they are today The book opens on Bloomsday Ulysses fans rejoice and the Joyce references don t end there they are riddled through the pages making me antsy to pick upbooks The main character Leopold Bloomfield King is not attractive he s referred to as The Toad , and he s suffering with processing his feelings after finding his older brother s body in the bathtub Leo, riddled with his own mental turmoil, befriends an eccentric group of misfits and they go through life together This seemed a little too contrived for me, but let s go with it Add in a number of hot topics during this timeframe Racial tensions, segregation, religion, AIDS, mental disorders out the ying yang, abandonment and you ve got yourself quite the saga I enjoyed the writing dense, lyrical, and epic At times, this was my only complaint with the book the writing was too much, too many words and sentences describing something that went on far longer than my interest in said subject The book kept moving and I was surprised at many of the twists that came I thought this would beof a character study, but alas, I was intrigued and surprised at the different directions the author took this sad group of friends In the end, my heart broke and I found myself glad to have been introduced to Mr Conroy with this selection 3.
5 Stars rounded up to 4 This is a difficult book to review I loved Pat Conroy s The Prince of Tides, and I think he is an immensely talented writer and storyteller South of Broad, however, is not one of his best works There were far too many jarring grammatical errors which occurred as early as page three , the dialogue was awful and the storyline over the top dramatic That said, though, I still found it a compelling read, and Conroy at his worst is still better than 99% of the writers out there Parts of the book were magical, such as the story of the main character s parents romance and the relationship between the boy and an antique dealer But many of the characters came across as stereotyped caricatures.
I am 29% into this book no page numbers on the kindlea little disconcerting Not loving it, so far The dialogue is really bugging me Do people really talk like this Is anyone else out there reading this right now and finding it irritating I am compelled to keep going, because I want to see where it is going, but if the witty banter keeps up, I am going to have to give up These are the oddest caricatures of Southern folk I have read in a long time Maybe I am from too far north and west of the Mason Dixon line to know people who would help these characters ring true to me.
I have given up, for now I just could not take the dialogue any The clever characters wore me out.
This book has been sitting on my shelf for far too long I was about to give birth when I tried last time and the stuff about his 10 year old brother committing suicide was too much to take at the time Going to make it through this time Okay I finished Once I started I wondered why I ever waited First off I want to say that I feel like in some ways the description did this book an injustice Yes, it starts in Charleston and they travel to San Francisco but the desription makes it sound like the book is all over the place when it s really not.
Pat Conroy is a writer who wears his heart on his sleeve Reading his books are like spying on his family reunion I can t help reading his books and trying to figure out who represents who In his past books he has written about fathers who brutalized their sons The Great Santini, The Prince of Tides, Beach Music there are two in that one actually but in South of Broad he writes about a loving and tender father who seems to get and appreciate his son in ways no one else certainly not the cold, James Joyce loving mother does In interviews Conroy claims to have made peace with and fallen in love with his father before his death and he seems to attest to that on every page Granted, there is another father in the book that makes Santini seem like a pussy cat but he s not Leo s father Of course it does make me wonder about how he currently feels about his mother but maybe I m reading too much into things This is also the second book that features a broken and wounded wife for the main character and the fourth that features suicide there could bethat I haven t read Again, makes me wonder Conroy s writing may be a bit over the top, he may be a bit long winded and overly effusive but I can t help but love him He does hurt and flawed and broken characters like few others and he never fails to make me weep I am perfectly willing to overlook his little flaws.
In Pat Conroy s first novel in 14 years a group of friends comes together as high schoolers in the late 1960s and they change each others lives Our guide through this ode to friendship is Leopold Bloom King, second son in every sense to a mother who is not only the principal at his high school, but a former nun and an expert on James Joyce Conroy uses her as a deus ex Ulysses to manipulate her son into meeting, in a 24 hour stretch, the eight friends who form the core of the tale That day is, of course, June 16, Bloomsday You know there will be a character named Molly Leo s mother named his golden boy older brother Stephen in honor of you know who Sadly, Stephen offers the spark that sets light to the rest of the novel, by committing suicide Leo found his body at a tender age, the trauma of which caused him a breakdown and an extended time out in a mental institution Later, Leo takes the fall for a drug crime not of his doing, suffering in silence because he admired a school athlete who reminds him so much of Stephen Leo continues to act in a saint like and not very credible manner As an adult Leo is on the Penelope end of a wandering spouse problem This Bloom could definitely use a Bialystock There are mysteries to be solved, significant dangers to be dealt with, lessons to be learned and lives to be led in this mass coming of age tale A central character in the story is Charlestown, South Carolina, the location of the title street Conroy lets loose with florid and not unwelcome sentimentality about his core fictional location There is nothing wrong with loving your home There are plenty of warts in Conroy s South Bigotry abounds in this place where the Civil War heard its first shot No shock there Racism and class rigidity are not tucked away behind the magnolias More surprising is the degree of acceptance across the friends who form Conroy s breakfast, lunch and dinner club The group seems selected for family dysfunction This runs the gamut from an unloving mother to a psycho killer father, spiced up with a bit of murder, alcoholism, and sexual deviance This wide spectrum of adolescence includes several sets of siblings a siren about to become a queen of the silver screen and her flamboyantly fabulous brother, brother and sister orphans who are chained to a bed when we first meet them, a spoiled rich boy and his athletic sister and the first black to integrate the local high school All have interesting stories, which are revealed in time, taking us from the 1960s into the 1980s when the group comes together to save one of their own, a sort of Big Chill in which the Kevin Costner character is still kicking There is much to enjoy here Connections to Joyce, commentary on religion, Catholicism in particular, muchon the power of friendship, a feel for the culture of a particular time in a particular place, some beautiful descriptive passages, some engaging scenes in which one can, at times feel along with the characters.
So why did I not like this book The dialogue was snappy, witty, and seemed to all be emanating from a single voice, the author s The lines that come from character A could just as easily have come from characters B, C, D or E Black, white, male, female, gay or straight, there was too little differentiation in the sound and feel of each of Conroy s people This is not an absolute, of course The geezer does not sound like the football coach, who does not sound like Leo s mother But the friends were too much of a cloth Also, the voice that emanates from those too similar mouths was almost unrelentingly peppy Snappy dialogue, witty, cheery, upbeat It reminded me of Robert Heinlein s YA novels I hope they were YA from the 50s and 60s in which all the clean cut youths slapped on their spacesuits, sidearms and smiles as they marched forth to kick butt on some bad ass aliens, exchanging wisecracks 24 7 Yes there is a monster to be slain here Puh lease It is tough to feel much connection to such plasticine portrayals And enough with the tears, already Do southern males really soak each others shirts with such lachrymosity I know that there are many who will love this book And I recognize that maybe there are elements I missed There had to be a lot of Ulysses references, for example, that left contrails high above as they zoomed past me But even with missed references, the uni character problem really grated The South may rise again, but, for me, this book left it where it was.
Can we add a shelf for wouldn t waste my time finishing this I made it about halfway, trying to talk myself into finishing it Finally, I couldn t take the horrid, lame dialog, character mix and plotting This paragraph, spoken by Sheba Poe, famous sex goddess movie star, trying to find her disappeared brother about sums it up Full page column Tomorrow morning Herb s going to tell the story of the famous actress and her high school friends from Charleston who ve come to hunt for her brother dying of AIDS He loved the angle of Ike and Betty being black, Fraser and Molly being society broads, Niles being an orphan, and Leo being a brother columnist We cheer, but Niles is clearly miffed Why did you have to tell him I m an orphan Gag Wrong on so many levels And this is only a very small sample of the wretchedness This is the worst thing I ve read in ages.
I ve never been to the south I can only hope that this is just bad writing and that southerners do not truly speak and think as this novel portrays I don t think it s really in question bad writing.
What worked to perfection in The Prince of Tides is a little dissonant in South of Broad Conroy s trademark soaring language develops a cohesive sense of place that wonderfully contrasts with and serves as a stable foundation for the nasty events and broken people Yet some of the poetry is ponderous The familiar storyline of dysfunctional people coping with a tragedies is again compelling Yet it stumbles somewhat on the novel s structure and melodramatic tendencies When Leopold Bloom King is nine years old, he finds a dead god named Stephen Daedalus King in a bathtub of bloody water While the method behind the madness is a little tired and the music a little too much in a minor key, between Steve s suicide and the novel s last moments on a Bloomsday many years in the future, there is a still strong and memorable story.
Sorry, Pat, but I m abandoning this novel at 25 percent Conroy has a lot of Southern charm, but this isn t his best work The dialogue was too contrived and I wasn t invested in the characters I did like the Charleston setting and the Bloomsday references, but I hit a wall and decided I need to move on Conroy has such a big heart that I feel a bit guilty for not finishing, but my pile of unread books is just too large to linger here I ll circle back and readof his novels in the future.
The Prince of Tides will always be my favorite book, and I have loved many others written by the great Pat Conroy, but.
It hurts my heart to say this South of Broad is the work of a man who has lost his mojo It is a book that most likely only got into print because editors deferred to what was once genius, perhaps even assumed that the work would somehow be fine because so much of Conroy s past work is undeniably brilliant.
Where do I begin The plot What plot Disjointed rambling thoughts I see, but plot No.
The characters are despicable There may have been one or two likable folks in the entire book Certainly none of the main characters were likable Despite horrible backstories who was NOT raped constantly through childhood in this book no one was even remotely likable except Trevor, and I even had issues with Trevor.
The protagonist likes himself too damned much Even when he leaves the lauding of his wondrous deeds to others, there is never a hint at self deprecation Leo likes himself waythan I ever did.
How are these people friends Even when we finally get around to the back story of how they bonded that championship year and please, God, I couldn t have stood another paragraph of football , these were not friends who triumphed over evil together or who loved through everything these were assholes Racist, self absorbed, assholes.
The dialogue made me laugh out loud, and not because it was funny It was just bad People don t talk that way Not even in South Carolina Besides being boring, tedious and out of touch, the dialogue ended up very often serving as Conroy s vehicle of condescension When he has to use banter to remind us that the characters are brother and sister after we ve known them for four hundred pages, something is seriously wrong Add to that references to used kotex and negresses , or throw in quips like, He s not my cup of semen and you really wonder why in the hell you bothered to finish the book at all.
Catholic funerals don t happen this way, sorry That aging group could never have pulled off the rescue of Trevor You don t unveil a villain in the last five pages who has never been suspect in the entire rest of the book You don t talk about this evil mother when she s never done much of anything wrong Your heroes can t be crazy unless they are also magnificent and these were not Anger and bitterness ooze from these pages Charlestonians are NOT that racist, not even in the company of their nearest and dearest Friends do not hurl hateful epithets at one another like this and survive and do it all over again the next time No one jokes to someone calling to check on his family after a disaster of epic proportions, They re all dead This book is a practice in inappropriateness I wanted to make excuses for Pat Conroy I have referred to him as my favorite author for a very long time But there is no excuse I only rated this book two stars because I didn t vomit.
It is time to put down the pen, PC, at least until you find your sense of humor again Maybe your lovely prose and your ability to understand the human heart will be in the same place Wouldn t that be a wonderful day