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South of Broad Hardcover – Deckle Edge, August 11, 2009
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From Bookmarks Magazine
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Pat Conroy should sue. Someone has generated a novel featuring all of the familiar Conroy elements and fed them into a plot generating device and come up with a novel that has everything a Conroy novel has. Except for wit. Except for snappy dialog. Except for realistic relationships and except for three dimensional characters.
Here are the basics: suicide (2), murder (2), threats of murder, madness (almost everyone to one degree or another), mental hospitals, religious disputes, beautiful women, stereotypical gay behavior, enduring friendship, racism, brotherhood, rich, poor, good parents, bad parents, crazy parents, distant parents, understanding parents, cloying descriptions of Charleston, stereotypical put downs of all that is not Charleston, and more beautiful women and the awkward men who love them.
It was all there in Beach Music, Prince of Tides and Lords of Discipline. But it was done better and more convincingly and with much better dialog.
It could have used more astute editing as well. Do mentally deranged people take "psychotic drugs?" Probably not. It is hoped that they take anti-psychotic drugs, which would seem to be more purposeful, but that's just me.
I read this book [on Kindle] so you don't have to
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I never read Pat Conroy before his death although he'd been on my TBR list for awhile. I started with My Losing Season and loved it as I am a big college basketball fan. Read morePublished 1 day ago by S. Gilliland
Loving it! About 3/4ths thru it and it ranks up there with all the best of Pat Conroy!Published 4 days ago by Vinnfizz
I love everything I've ever read by Pat Conroy, but this one is my favorite. He was such an artistic genius with words.Published 11 days ago by Sandy Moyers
It has beautiful language, but the story took awhile to draw me in. Dialogue seemed a bit over the top and I almost quit reading. So glad I didn't. Read morePublished 12 days ago by Story Writer