This is a modern classic in so many ways. Besides being an homage to Kipling's Jungle Book it contains the elements of the Disadvantaged Orphan YA boo...moreThis is a modern classic in so many ways. Besides being an homage to Kipling's Jungle Book it contains the elements of the Disadvantaged Orphan YA book: An orphan helped by friends and few adults to overcome enormous disadvantages and dreadful villain; and most of his supporters are dead!
Told with the wonder and humor of Dahl or Lewis Carroll, this is really a book to be cherished. All of the details of the story come together to form a well-thought out design yet the ending leaves the options of future stories that most readers will crave. The prose will delight the ear of young listeners and the tongues of adults desiring to read the stories aloud.
A stage entertainer once stated her aim was to "Make the audience laugh, make them cry, scare the hell out of them and then send them home." Graveyard Book does just that and leaves you glad to be alive.(less)
Although Fitzgerald stated “There are no second acts in American Lives” his last literary work shows his own focus changing from the crash of young l...more Although Fitzgerald stated “There are no second acts in American Lives” his last literary work shows his own focus changing from the crash of young lives overweighted by money, mistakes and their own potential. Without losing his lyrical prose, he dared to imagine a protagonist different than the previous ones modeled on his own character. This was a tricky process and he died before the work was complete but if efforts count, Fitzgerald lived long enough to start the second act he thought could not exist.
Pat Conroy’s South of Broad may be the beginning of his own second act in the career of fiction and he risked his readership in writing this novel. Those familiar with his work are aware of his luminous prose, his focus on the American South and the need to forgive damage inflicted by those closest to you. The lush sentences and southern scenes are still here but, at the risk of his readership, Mr. Conroy has modified the theme of betrayal that dominated his earlier novels.
Instead of an belittling father, the protagonist, Leo King, is raised by a man as gentle and decent as any abused child could wish for. His mother is emotionally cold but she is a woman unable to express feelings well, instead of a lying narcissist. When Leo starts to make friends, the communal friendship supports his comrades and the evil they encounter were created by hands other than their own.
Gone too is the central character who has the luxury of youth. As Mr. Conroy has aged, the heroes of his novels have grown up and Leo tells his story from the beginning of his fifth decade. This is a man old enough to regret missed changes and mistaken choices.. Compared to earlier protagonists, Leo is more comfortable in his own skin, holds fewer resentments and shows less need to dominate every conversation. While he shares the ability of conversational fencing that make Luke Wingo and Jackson Hagood famous, Leo uses the skill when it is needed, not at the drop of every verbal cue.
These changes are subtle and can best be seen in line with the author’s previous work. However, they are an indication Mr. Conroy is trying to challenge his successful formula and create something new, which requires nerve. Perhaps in future literature classes, South of Broad can be studied as the beginning of Pat Conroy’s next act. If so, let’s hope the play continues to run for decades. (less)