“Hemingway didn’t know he was Ernest Hemingway when he was a young man. Faulkner didn’t know he was William Faulkner. But they had to take the first step. They had to call themselves writers. That is the first revolutionary act a writer has to make. It takes courage. But it’s necessary.”
— Pat Conroy, My Losing Season
As Pat Conroy’s literary agents and longtime friends, we plan to do our part to help keep his literary legacy alive. These pages are created as a place for his readers and admirers to meet and exchange “words”, the very foundation of our understanding of each other. There are no rules other that our request these exchanges be conducted with civility, kindness, and perhaps a bit of brevity, while fully acknowledging that brevity was never one of Pat’s strong suits. And yes, a bit of humor would likely be appreciated; the world certainly can use it.
This ‘blog’ begins with an older review of a book Pat Conroy played a part in seeing into print: the debut novel by the award-winning poet John Lane. The reader’s review below appeared on Amazon around the time of this small gem’s publication.
Of course you need not limit yourself to writing about books, feel free to share cooking tips- perhaps you want to tell us about an extraordinary new “frying pan” you recently discovered or maybe you have an opinion for or against slow cooking with a Sous-vid – a controversy raging in our household. Write about life. Politics? What do you think? Perhaps not so much. There are many other places to gather for those discussions.
As literary agents we will on occasion post observations about books and publishing, but we may also offer a few paragraphs or a prologue from a book to get you thinking. Or perhaps we will share a recipe by Pat Conroy, Cassandra King Conroy. We expect others to contribute- (Janis Owen? Are you out there?) At this time we do not have a “blog” master (Pat hated this word and yet he always responded to my requests to write a letter to his readers.) But we will get there with your interest and support.
We hope you will jump in. The water is fine. Let your imagination and heart direct you.
Fate Moreland Widow
A story with staying power – March 22, 2015
This story has staying power – any strong emotion (love, death) would of course fade with time but it isn’t the kind of book that you finish, close the covers and go, say, fishing and that’s that. It stays with you, it clings to you and brings on more thoughts… somehow it wants you to think deeper and deeper about the ‘whys’ of the story.
I noticed the device that John Lane the author used brilliantly… the prologue that gives us a glimpse into the story and the ending with the trip back to Huntsville, that made me weep for Ben, for all the others I met along the way.
This is not the story of the elusive and beautiful Novie Moreland, the widow, as I thought it would be, while aching for her along with Ben Crocker throughout the story. All that I read and loved about every character, from ‘villains’ to ‘saints’ is grafted onto the heart breaking lives of the cotton mill workers of South Carolina’s past.
There are so many books out there and so little time to read but this one is a fast read and will reward you handsomely!
Comments are open and you can approach any issue you think appropriate. A favorite recent debut novel perhaps?
We are also thinking if you have a short essay of 1,000 words or so that could stir some interest we will post it under your name; then you’ll have all comments you can generate to hopefully create a conversation. We know and hope that some friends like Joe Palmer, Roger Jones, Cele & Lynn Seldon and others… will stop by to say hello.
Marly Rusoff and Mihai Radulescu
Gwen Lynne Groenewold says
Many years ago I grabbed South of Broad off the library shelf and fell into the culture of the south and Pat Conroy’s story telling. I played the audio version for two of my adolescent grandchildren on a long car trip and made them promise not to tell their parents that I allowed them to listen to a book with words shocking to young minds. They loved it. And recently I finished reading The Great Santini after, again, just grabbing it off the library shelf. I was surprised by the effect it had on me. I think I was like Ben: at times wishing Bull would die so his family would be rid of his brutalities, but then at the end, hoping, hoping he would survive the crash into the swamp. It was such an emotional experience for me that I am not sure I have the courage to read another of his books. His stories are so painfully compelling. I will wait and see.G
Evelyn Krieger says
Thank you for introducing me to more fine Southern writing. As a midwest girl and transplanted New Englander form any years, I appreciate hearing different voices and depictions of new places.
Nanda Sue Rowell Sanders says
My vignette is titled
The day my Mama Jane Died by Nanda Sue Sanders
The long-distance call came late afternoon in October of 1970 my husband answered it in the living room. I was in the bedroom folding baby clothes. He came and sat by me on the bed reached for my hand and said it’s bad news. Mama Jane died she was killed in a car wreck. Shocked and dumbfounded I just stared at him. No, that’s not possible, this can’t be real, why would he joke like this. It’s simply not true. It was unthinkable. He kept asking me are you all right Sue are you okay? If I didn’t answer it wasn’t happening it’s just some stupid nightmare I could wake myself from. I did not shed the first tear.
The realization hit me in the face like a concrete wall a year later in the summer of 1971. Mama me and Aunt Jo planned to go to the cemetery at Crooked Creek Church to place flowers on their graves and from there to the old home place. I did not go home for her funeral. We were stationed in Colorado and could not afford to make the trip home to North Carolina even if I had wanted to. Crooked Creek Cemetery was the same as it had always been. Mama replaced some withered flowers with the red roses she brought. I leaned up against our car waiting as she and Aunt Jo pulled weeds and brushed off the Greene headstone.
Later I felt uneasy as I drove up the hill and parked on the dirt driveway out front of the old home place. Mama and Aunt Jo got out of the car and walked up the steps and into the house. I followed more slowly. As I stepped over the threshold cold hard proof and feelings of enormous sadness washed over me. I could no longer deny it. My beloved grandmother my Mama Jane, was not here she was gone from this house and this earth. Emotions flooded through me like a tidal wave and I began to shake. I heard gut-wrenching sobs fill that empty room. I didn’t know I was the one moaning and then sounds like a wounded animal coming from somewhere deep within. I turned and ran from the house dropping down on the front steps of that old wooden porch that had held so many wonderful memories of my childhood.
Tears roll down my face as I looked for the swing that was not there remembering how as grandchildren we would fight over who got to sit beside Mama Jane and swing with her. Missing were the ladder back chairs and rockers where my aunts and uncles sat telling stories, laughing and talking or just yelling at us kids to quit running in and out of the house and slamming the front screen door.
Memories came flooding back through my brain I saw in my mind’s eye all of the beautiful plants and flowers she planted around the porch and lovingly cared for… all gone now. I looked up at the spreading mimosa tree with its huge trunk and limbs us grandchildren always climbed on and sat under for shade. The front yard where the rest of the family would gather when there was no more room on the porch to sit.
Mother did not understand my reaction. I could not make myself go into the bleakness of that cold dark empty house. I just sat there reaching back for the comfort of Mama Jane and the memories she left me with. All the summer vacations Sib and I got to spend with her and Paw Greene picking blackberries, learning to make butter with an old wooden churn, canning vegetables from her garden, pickles and peaches to put up in the pantry for the winter. Making biscuits and helping in the kitchen while she cooked. Most of all the quiet peaceful times we shared, sitting beside her while she patiently taught us to crochet. I filled my brain with these memories trying to cope with the overwhelming pain of her being gone.
It had taken that empty and desolate old farm house to finally pull out of me the grief I had kept locked inside for so long but now could no longer deny. My precious Mama Jane passed away from me forever that awful day and it broke my heart.
Lynn Seldon says
I can’t believe I haven’t read this yet. Great reminder. Reading it this weekend!
Mihai Radulescu says
I like that we can talk about this great book here; I wish more people would read it and comment on it. This is one of the Southern gems overlooked by the north east media…