Stitch and Bear

A long-running Irish blog with reviews of the best restaurants in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Some wine and cocktails thrown in for good measure!

Monday, November 16, 2009

South of Broad - Pat Conroy

Pat Conroy is the famous author of Prince of Tides, and he is heavily influenced by his Southern roots. Critics of his latest novel, South of Broad, have argued that it is repetitive but as a first-time Conroy reader, I was enchanted by his use of the English language.

There is no doubting that Conroy is a superb craftsman, whose tools are words. He paints beautiful pictures of Charleston and its inhabitants, endowing the images with luminous light through the use of mere words. The dialogue between the characters is witty and very contemporary - more than once was I reminded of the snappy dialogue found in modern dramas such as Dawson's Creek, The OC and others.

South of Broad centres on Leo King (or more accurately Leopold Bloom King, named after the hero of Joyce's Ulysses), a southern gentleman and journalist. Leo has a close group of disparate friends who came together in the late 1960s in high school. The book skips back and forth between the 1960s, where Leo is beginning to resume a normal life following the suicide of his elder brother, and the late 1980s where their group is under threat and one of its members faces death from the AIDs epidemic of that era.

The story may be somewhat obvious and even laboured, but it was a book I found hard to put down. The music and harmony present in Conroy's wordcraft puts him head and shoulders above many competing authors.

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