South of broad
by Pat Conroy









South of broad
by Pat Conroy

Summary
The publishing event of the season: The one and only Pat Conroy returns, with a big, sprawling novel that is at once a love letter to Charleston and to lifelong friendship. Against the sumptuous backdrop of Charleston, South Carolina, South of Broad gathers a unique cast of sinners and saints. Leopold Bloom King, our narrator, is the son of an amiable, loving father who teaches science at the local high school. His mother, an ex-nun, is the high school principal and a well-known Joyce scholar. After Leo's older brother commits suicide at the age of thirteen, the family struggles with the shattering effects of his death, and Leo, lonely and isolated, searches for something to sustain him. Eventually, he finds his answer when he becomes part of a tightly knit group of high school seniors that includes friends Sheba and Trevor Poe, glamorous twins with an alcoholic mother and a prison-escapee father; hardscrabble mountain runaways Niles and Starla Whitehead; socialite Molly Huger and her boyfriend, Chadworth Rutledge X; and an ever-widening circle whose liaisons will ripple across two decades-from 1960s counterculture through the dawn of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. The ties among them endure for years, surviving marriages happy and troubled, unrequited loves and unspoken longings, hard-won successes and devastating breakdowns, and Charleston's dark legacy of racism and class divisions. But the final test of friendship that brings them to San Francisco is something no one is prepared for. South of Broad is Pat Conroy at his finest; a long-awaited work from a great American writer whose passion for life and language knows no bounds.

Characters
NameLeopold Bloom King
GenderMale
OccupationGossip columnist
AttributesFather teaches science at the high school; mother, an ex-nun, is the high school principal; brother committed suicide when he was 13; became close with a group of friends when he was 18

NameSheba Poe
GenderFemale
OccupationActress
AttributesTwin
Mother is an alcoholic; father escaped prison when she was a teenager; searching for her missing brother

NameTrevor Poe
GenderMale
AttributesTwin
Gay
Sheba's twin brother; mother is an alcoholic; father escaped prison when he was a teenager; has gone missing

NameNiles Whitehead
GenderMale
AttributesOrphan
Ran away when he was a teenager

NameStarla Whitehead
GenderFemale
AttributesOrphan
Niles's sister; ran away when she was a teenager

NameMolly Huger
GenderFemale
AttributesSocialite

NameCharles Rutledge
GenderMale
AttributesMolly's boyfriend


Genre
Fiction
Coming of age
Southern fiction

Topics
Southern life
Loss
Grief
Teenagers
Family tragedy
Family relationships
Adolescence
Twins
Aristocracy
Orphans
Friendship
Social classes
Racism
Marriage
Love
Runaways

Setting
Charleston, South Carolina -- South (U.S.)
South Carolina -- South (U.S.)
San Francisco, California -- West (U.S.)
California -- West (U.S.)

Time Period
1969-1980s -- 20th century





The publishing event of the season: The one and only Pat Conroy returns, with a big, sprawling novel that is at once a love letter to Charleston and to lifelong friendship. Against the sumptuous backdrop of Charleston, South Carolina, South of Broad gathers a unique cast of sinners and saints. Leopold Bloom King, our narrator, is the son of an amiable, loving father who teaches science at the local high school. His mother, an ex-nun, is the high school principal and a well-known Joyce scholar. After Leo's older brother commits suicide at the age of thirteen, the family struggles with the shattering effects of his death, and Leo, lonely and isolated, searches for something to sustain him. Eventually, he finds his answer when he becomes part of a tightly knit group of high school seniors that includes friends Sheba and Trevor Poe, glamorous twins with an alcoholic mother and a prison-escapee father; hardscrabble mountain runaways Niles and Starla Whitehead; socialite Molly Huger and her boyfriend, Chadworth Rutledge X; and an ever-widening circle whose liaisons will ripple across two decades-from 1960s counterculture through the dawn of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. The ties among them endure for years, surviving marriages happy and troubled, unrequited loves and unspoken longings, hard-won successes and devastating breakdowns, and Charleston's dark legacy of racism and class divisions. But the final test of friendship that brings them to San Francisco is something no one is prepared for. South of Broad is Pat Conroy at his finest; a long-awaited work from a great American writer whose passion for life and language knows no bounds.





Donald Patrick Conroy's pen name is Pat Conroy. He was born on October 26, 1945, in Atlanta, Georgia. He graduated from The Citadel in 1967 with B.A. in English. He later used his experiences at the strict school in his book, The Lords of Discipline (1980), which was nominated for the Robert Kennedy Book Award in 1981. After teaching high school at his alma mater, he accepted a job teaching disadvantaged black children in a two-room schoolhouse on Daufuskie Island off the South Carolina coast. Many of the children were illiterate, unable even to write their own names. He taught them using oral history and geography lessons. His experience on Daufuskie Island formed the basis for his first successful novel The Water Is Wide (1972), which won Conroy the Anisfield-Wolf Award from the Cleveland Foundation and was made into the movie Conrack starring Jon Voight in 1976. His other novels include The Great Santini, The Prince of Tides, Beach Music, and South of Broad. Conroy chronicled his relationship with his father in the memoir, The Death of Santini: The Story of a Father and his Son (2013). (Bowker Author Biography)





"Kids, I'm teaching you to tell a story. It's the most important lesson you'll ever learn," says the protagonist of Conroy's first novel in 14 years (since 1995's Beach Music). Switching between the 1960s and the 1980s, the narrative follows a group of friends whose relationship began in Charleston, SC. The narrator is Leopold Bloom King (his mother was a Joyce scholar), a likable but troubled kid who goes from having one best friend, his brother, to having no friends after a tragedy, to having, suddenly, a gang, of which he is perhaps not the leader but certainly the glue. Conroy continues to demonstrate his skill at presenting the beauty and the ugliness of the South, holding both up for inspection and, at times, admiration. He has not lost his touch for writing stories that are impossible to put down; the fast pace and shifting settings grip the reader even as the story occasionally veers toward the unbelievable. Verdict Filled with the lyrical, funny, poignant language that is Conroy's birthright, this is a work Conroy fans will love. Libraries should buy multiple copies.-Amy Watts, Univ. of Georgia Lib., Athens (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.





Charleston, S.C., gossip columnist 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. Too often the not-so-witty repartee and the narrator's awed voice (he is very fond of superlatives) overwhelm the stories surrounding the group's love affairs and their struggles to protect one another from dangerous pasts. Some characters are tragically lost to the riptides of love and obsession, while others emerge from the frothy waters of sentimentality and nostalgia as exhausted as most readers are likely to be. Fans of Conroy's florid prose and earnest melodramas are in for a treat. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved





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, second son of an ex-nun Joyce scholar, who is also the school's principal, and a science-teacher father, 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, classism, 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.--Knoblauch, Mark Copyright 2009 Booklist





Prologue The Mansion on the River 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 ?ooded and shaped all the days of my life on this storied peninsula. I carry the delicate porcelain beauty of Charleston like the hinged shell of some soft-tissued mollusk. My soul is peninsula-shaped and sun-hardened and river-swollen. The high tides of the city ?ood my consciousness each day, subject to the whims and harmonies of full moons rising out of the Atlantic. I grow calm when I see the ranks of palmetto trees pulling guard duty on the banks of Colonial Lake or hear the bells of St. Michael's calling cadence in the cicada-?lled trees along Meeting Street. Deep in my bones, I knew early that I was one of those incorrigible creatures known as Charlestonians. It comes to me as a surprising form of knowledge that my time in the city is more vocation than gift; it is my destiny, not my choice. I consider it a high privilege to be a native of one of the loveliest American cities, not a high-kicking, glossy, or lipsticked city, not a city with bells on its ?ngers or brightly painted toenails, but a ruf?ed, low-slung city, understated and tolerant of nothing mismade or ostentatious. Though Charleston feels a seersuckered, tuxedoed view of itself, it approves of restraint far more than vainglory. As a boy, in my own backyard I could catch a basket of blue crabs, a string of ?ounder, a dozen red?sh, or a net full of white shrimp. All this I could do in a city enchanting enough to charm cobras out of baskets, one so corniced and ?ligreed and elaborate that it leaves strangers awed and natives self-satis?ed. In its shadows you can ?nd metalwork as delicate as lace and spiral staircases as elaborate as yachts. In the secrecy of its gardens you can discover jasmine and camellias and hundreds of other plants that look embroidered and stolen from the Garden of Eden for the sheer love of richness and the joy of stealing from the gods. In its kitchens, the stoves are lit up in happiness as the lamb is marinating in red wine sauce, vinaigrette is prepared for the salad, crabmeat is anointed with sherry, custards are baked in the oven, and buttermilk biscuits cool on the counter. Because of its devotional, graceful attraction to food and gardens and architecture, Charleston stands for all the principles that make living well both a civic virtue and a standard. It is a rapturous, de?ning place to grow up. Everything I reveal to you now will be Charleston-shaped and Charleston-governed, and sometimes even Charleston-ruined. But it is my fault and not the city's that it came close to destroying me. Not everyone responds to beauty in the same way. Though Charleston can do much, it can't always improve on the strangeness of human behavior. But Charleston has a high tolerance for eccentricity and bemusement. There is a tastefulness in its gentility that comes from the knowledge that Charleston is a permanent dimple in the understated skyline, while the rest of us are only visitors. My father was an immensely gifted science teacher who could make the beach at Sullivan's Island seem like a laboratory created for his own pleasures and devices. He could pick up a star?sh, or describe the last excruciating moments of an oyster's life on a ?at a hundred yards from where we stood. He made Christmas ornaments out of the braceletlike egg casings of whelk Excerpted from South of Broad by Pat Conroy All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.






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