My freshly shined shoes moved across the Oriental carpets as I looked for a uniformed guard to halt my progress towards the inner sanctum of the club, but the few men I passed neither noticed or spoke to me as I moved towards the murmurous conversations of the lunchtime crowd. Outside the Cooper River was lined with white sails limp in the breathless air like butterflies ..............."
I have read the Prince of Tides and Beach Music, both great and I could not wait to start Mr. Conroy's latest. This is a masterpiece in my humble opinion and I wish I could give South of Broad more than five stars, so discerning it would be.
South is a novel that gets under your skin allowing you to remember your growing up days, partying non-stop and having long hang-outs and partaking in those things which young people generally go through before they find their place in the world and know what careers they want to pursue. Actually what they want from life period. The characters in South are diverse and have their own stories to tell.
We meet Sheba and Trevor Poe who are twins from a dysfunctional family with an alcoholic mother and a father you don't really want to know about. These beautiful twins are taken in by the compassionate King family.......the main characters of this book.
Molly Huger the socialite and Chadworth Rutledge have a love-hate relationship, and are from upscale families, but this does not stop them from being part of the circle of friends.
Niles and Starla Whitehead were poor children from the mountains who made their world amongst these folk.
Ike and Betty a black couple who appear as no nonsense people.Lire la suite ›
c'est l'histoire d'un névrosé moche ,amoureux d'une superbe actrice sexy détraquée par son père ,qui réussit à vivre dans une tranche de temps englobant le début de l'époque du sida grâce à ses amis dans une Amérique toujours hantée par ses vieux démons racistes.c'est un hymne à la solidarité sans mièvrerie et à la fidélité en amitié.
Years ago I read Conroy's "Prince of Tides" and was enthralled with the story. After reading it I felt a certain fondness that readers sometimes feel for authors - a gratitude for the author bringing the story to me, and doing it well. I was very excited to receive this new novel of Conroy's all these years later. I didn't read any reviews of it as I wanted to come to the book with a totally open mind.
About 30 pages into "South of Broad" I began to feel uncomfortable with the book, and with reviewing it. The dialogue seemed stilted, and did not ring true, particularly in light of the ages of the main characters at the beginning. This issue continued throughout the book and I finally marked a page in order to find it again when I was finished and ready to review the book. Here is the passage I marked as an example: "Tonight, Sheba Poe" Ike says, "you're coming clean. You're going to lay it all out for us. I don't mind dying for you. I really don't. But I'd sure as hell like to know why." The reader is asked to believe that a grown, married man with a wife and children would volunteer to help out a childhood friend, and risk his life in doing so, as long as the childhood friend tells him her entire story.
This passage is also indicative of another issue I had with the book - there are numerous high drama episodes in the lives of the friends. There are so many that the book began to seem, to me, like the plot of a soap opera as opposed to a story that I could imagine is true.
The relationships in the book really stretched credibility. Given the incredibly ugly episodes among some of the characters in their teenage years, it is not plausible that as adults they were regularly socializing and calling each other "friends."
I wanted very much to like this book but just can't. If you grew up in the south and want to read something that touches on the issues all of us experienced (the social divide between the older, established families in the community, most of them with great wealth, and the more ordinary citizens; race relations as the community was forced to change due to integration and long overdue social changes; religion; and homosexuality) then you will find much in the novel you can identify with.
I wish that Nan Talese had taken a firmer hand as editor and had Conroy rework the dialogue and tone down the drama. I am uncomfortable writing such a negative review of the work of an author I have long admired. If I hadn't received the book as part of the Vine program, and felt obligated to review it, I wouldn't have.
242 internautes sur 272 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Leopold Bloom King ("Leo" to friends) is the narrator of Pat Conroy's first novel in 14 years. The story opens on Bloomsday, 1969, in Charleston, South Carolina. Most families don't commemorate this celebration of the work of James Joyce, but then again, most parents don't name their sons after fictional Joycean characters. At the tender age of 18, painfully shy Leo has had enough drama to last a lifetime. Trouble began early with his radiant older brother's suicide. Leo found the body. This led to years of therapy and adventures within the mental health care system. Finally released from institutions, Leo is immediately convicted of a crime he didn't commit, but for which he won't defend himself. All of this has occurred before the events of the novel, and is exposited in the first 50 pages or so.
On that fateful Bloomsday, Leo is finally on the verge of getting his act together. And this kid is too good to be true. He's got no friends his own age, but Leo is genuinely kind-hearted and charms any adult willing to give him a chance. However, everything changes on that day. It's the day that larger-than-life twins Sheba and Trevor Poe move across the street. It is also the day that he meets Ike Jefferson, the son of his new African American football coach (thanks to desegregation). It is the day he meets teenage orphans Niles and Starla Whitehead, just arrived in town and handcuffed to their chairs. And, finally, it is the day he meets South of Broad bluebloods, Chad and Fraser Rutledge and the beautiful Molly Huger. It is, in short, an eventful day.
The non-linear novel is told in five parts. That first part establishes the rich Charleston setting, gives the necessary exposition, and cements the life-altering relationships of these high school friends. Part two is set 20 years later. It is 1989, and Sheba Poe has returned to Charleston as one of the biggest movie stars alive. She's a drama-queen of the highest order, but she hasn't forgotten her friends or her roots. As the group of friends reunites around Sheba's surprise visit, we see what's become of the teenagers we've just gotten to know. We learn just how incestuous the group is, and who ended up married to whom.
It was this section, more than any other, that reminded me powerfully of the film The Big Chill--right down to the South Carolina setting, the careers of some of the friends, and the many (many!) issues they are dealing with. Section three sees this close-knit group on a quest to San Francisco. One of their number, openly gay and rumored to be dying of AIDS, is missing. No one has heard from him in over a year. Part four returns us to 1969, and the friends' senior year of high school. It is here that we learn more of the events that led to the adult lives these people were leading 20 years later. And finally (and I do mean finally, as the book came in at over 500 pages), part five returns to 1989/1990 and the culmination of the all plots and dramas we've exhaustingly witnessed.
It is a truly STAGGERING list of discord. All the typical Conroy highlights are hit: daddy issues, mommy issues, male and female rape, suicide, southern living, mental illness, military education, team sports, adultery, relationships with coaches, family drama, and so much more. This sort of redundancy of themes can't help but make you wonder a bit about the author. Nonetheless, though revisiting a lot of territory, Conroy jumbles things up in new and interesting ways.
I had a mixed reaction to this book. I can (and will) criticize any number of aspects of this novel, but I can't deny that it was entertaining. It's compulsively readable, but in a trashy, guilty pleasure sort of way. I generally think better of Pat Conroy. Some of the language exhibits his renowned lyricism, but much of the dialogue is cringe-worthy. Each of the characters attempts to be more witty and glib than the next. Their dialogue is a non-stop stream of one-liners, innuendo, and casual racism. None of it rings true, and goes a long way towards making these characters, their actions, and the constant high-drama simply too much to believe. Most of the characters are extreme personalities (some of them downright repugnant), and I found it hard to believe that their bonds were as tight as was depicted. The entire San Francisco section found Conroy way out of his element, and while he convincingly narrated through the eyes of an outsider, the story he told lacked authenticity. Armisted Maupin he's not.
And I mentioned it before, but by the end of the book, the non-stop drama of these people's lives is exhausting. Family drama, relationship drama, racial drama, religious drama, deaths, suicides, crimes, affairs, addiction, mental illness, natural disasters, and not one psychopath--but two! Folks, it's a lot to take in. Mr. Conroy's stored up a lot of plot lines in the time he's been away from fiction, and apparently he decided to use them all.
I'm sure his fans will defend this novel. And it's already a best-seller, but this is far from his strongest work. Read if you're a die-hard fan, or just want a page-turner, but if you're expecting a lot more than that, I expect you'll be disappointed.
111 internautes sur 130 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Ugh...a big disappointment24 août 2009
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Conroy's "Lords of Discipline" is my all-time favorite novel, with "Prince of Tides" somewhere near the top as well. I was never a big fan of "Beach Music," but only because the plot never drew me in.
This is unfortunately a disaster of a novel - not much more than the lowest kind of southern-fried melodrama. It painfully makes clear that being a novelist isn't something you can put aside for years at a time, and hope your skills return to you at the same high level. The writer of "Lords" and "Prince" is nothing but a shadow here.
I'm not going to give plot points away. But...the tragic narrator (a Conroy set-piece, but never so contrived as here) is not sympathetic or relatable. The dialogue is stilted and expository, and the characters don't behave in a realistic fashion. The conversations he wrote that seemed so real in his other books, seem completely phony in "South," written to move the plot along, not to actually bring life to the characters.
There is of course a twist at the end, and it is aw-ful. It comes completely out of the blue, for no good reason, and I'm not even sure what reaction I as the reader was supposed to have. It's not a question of "getting it," because he hits the reader with a hammer. But an author can't throw a twist like this without some effective foreshadowing, which isn't there at all.
He has touched on race relations in all his previous books, but in this one it really descends to the level of the "magic Negro," where the black characters are all saintly and perfect, only existing to help the growth of the white characters.
A main character dies in a surprising - in a bad way - fashion. Again, with no set up and no point. The author owes the reader some reason to care about the things that are happening. Surprises are fine, but not without fitting into the premise of the story.
I could go on, and unfortunately on. It's not good. It's bad. Very bad. I'm terribly disappointed, not just for this book, but for the realization that Conroy's days of being a great novelist are behind him. This "let's wait 10 years between novels" just doesn't work. There aren't too many authors who can put their talents in cold storage and just expect them to reawaken. Conroy's editors did him a grave disservice. Maybe this could have been good, but it needed a lot more work.
Anyway...Conroy has a lot of loyal fans, including me. This isn't worth the money. Sorry.
33 internautes sur 38 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
First, I was excited. Then, I slogged through it.12 août 2009
Over the years, I have read all of Pat Conroy's books. I really enjoy them and think he is one of the best authors of our time. At least, I enjoy how he tells a story and the characters he crafts. So, I was excited to get South of Broad and was ready to enter the world he created in this book.
I liked the first 100 pages or so and enjoyed reading about the world of Charleston as described by Conroy. Then, it turned and I started feeling less comfortable with the characters and the friendships between them. I just couldn't believe the dialogue as it didn't seem realistic. I kept thinking that the characters were FLAMBOUYANT, which wasn't bad until that flamboyance became so pervasive that it just didn't ring true or seem realistic. It meant that there was almost constant high drama in the latter parts of the book and it just didn't seem probable or plausible. The characters were so dramatic, they became cut-out characters for the author to move around.
I wish I had liked this book because I really, really wanted to. After all, it was the first Pat Conroy book in years and years. But, the characters and story spiraled out of control early on and the book just isn't a good read.
44 internautes sur 52 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Fans of Pat Conroy's previous fiction can now rejoice that the long wait since "Beach Music" has now ended. The narrator, Leo King, is the troubled son of an idealized science teacher father and a former nun, now high school principal devoted to the writing of James Joyce, growing up in Charleston, South Carolina, in the late 1960's. Of course what boy wouldn't be troubled after discovering his older brother's suicide at a young age, and then spending time in a mental institution, only later to be placed on probation due to a drug arrest that was really no fault of his own?
As difficult as Leo's life may seem, it pales in comparison with that of the twins who move into the house across the street: an openly gay boy and a sister who eventually becomes a famous actress, both of whom are constantly moved from town to town by a psychopathic abusive father intent upon killing anyone who becomes close with his children, or the brother and sister from the town's orphanage, one of whom later marries Leo, only to have her life spiral down into the throes of her borderline personality disorder.
The story follows this group of friends through several decades of their lives during which times they must struggle with issues of discrimination based upon class, race, and sexual orientation. Naturally there couldn't be a Pat Conroy novel that did not touch upon high school sports or The Citadel, although not as much as in his previous books. A warning to the squeamish, however, is that it also includes mention of the sexual abuse of children, as was the case in "The Prince of Tides."
Although the stories may differ, anyone familiar with the famous wit of Pat Conroy's narration will not be disappointed to find more of the same in "South of Broad." I can think of no other writer better able to deliver such a devastating and/or humorous put-down to another person, whether as in this book, the victim is a racist, a blue-blood, a psychopathic killer, a nun, or a even a priest. I have also read few books in which an author's love of a particular city shone through more clearly than Conroy's love for Charleston in this novel.
Although I would not rank this book higher than "The Prince of Tides," I did enjoy it more than Conroy's last novel, "Beach Music." Although not as sprawling a work as "Beach Music," "South of Broad" was not a book that I found myself wanting to finish quickly and purposely read it over a couple of weeks. Now that I have finished it my only hope is that we will not have wait another fourteen years for Pat Conroy to grace us with his next novel.