Pat Conroy is my favorite author. This book is my favorite, not only of his books but of all books. It knocked To Kill a Mockingbird off its long held...morePat Conroy is my favorite author. This book is my favorite, not only of his books but of all books. It knocked To Kill a Mockingbird off its long held perch atop my heap of favorites. His novels are simply a sizable cut above those written by most other authors. There's not a bad one in the bunch. His non-fiction books are such a fascination as windows into the mind of this man with such mastery of our language.
The reason that I liked this one more than his others is its complexity, its sense of place, and the fully fleshed cast of characters. In this volume, Conroy makes love to the South, Charleston in particular. The characters breathe and rise from the page. Leopold Bloom King, the narrator and protagonist, will remain in my heart and mind for the rest of my days. You run across characters like that so seldom. Atticus Finch in Harper Lee's Mockingbird, Calia "Miss Callie" Harris Ruffin in John Grisham's The Last Juror, "Mother Abigail" Freemantle in Stephen King's The Stand, and Andy Dufresne as viewed through the eyes of Ellis Boyd "Red" Redding in King's Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption are among the few. You’ll notice that there are two characters on that list from Stephen King. Though Conroy writes more beautifully, I think King is the best pure storyteller alive on the planet today.
I've read that The Death of Santini is on the near horizon from Conroy. It is not possible that I am alone in unbearable anticipation of its arrival. (less)
King is perhaps the best storyteller walking the planet today. Everything he writes is not my cup of tea, but it is certainly not due to a lack of a s...moreKing is perhaps the best storyteller walking the planet today. Everything he writes is not my cup of tea, but it is certainly not due to a lack of a story or an absence of quality. When he does write one that's my kind of story, the tale and the threads with which it is sewn are pure heaven. In On Writing, he gives us a glimpse of how he does it. This book is as essential to writers as The Elements of Style and a lot more fun to read.(less)
BEFORE: I'm just starting this one. Though particular as to which of Stephen King's stories I read (generally not a horror reader), in my opinion he m...moreBEFORE: I'm just starting this one. Though particular as to which of Stephen King's stories I read (generally not a horror reader), in my opinion he might just be the best storyteller alive today. The Stand is in my top five favorites of all time. I was excited when I first saw this book on the horizon and am immensely excited to have reached it in my queue. I'll let you know what I think when I'm done. My current mindset is that I'll have nothing but good news to report.
AFTER: I consider Stephen King to be the best storyteller alive on this planet at this time, even though I'm not much of a horror reader or fan. It's when he writes books outside of the horror genre that he rides me hard and puts me up wet. I was excited to hear of 11/22/63. Instead of reading it, I listened to the Audible version as read by Craig Wasson. King wrote the words perfectly, and Wasson enhanced their perfection with his reading. My initial excitement was well founded, and my expectations of the best storyteller on the planet were exceeded, though the story King told was not the story I expected.
Lots of folks will review this one by analyzing the story, the characters, the historical association, and on and on. I thought I'd share an anecdote that in my opinion says a lot about the quality of this work. One of my coworkers was reading the novel on her iPad at the same time I was listening to the Audible file on my Kindle. We finished at lunch on the same day. She had her lunch break over an hour earlier than mine and dropped by to tell me that the ending was good even though it was different from what she envisioned as she approached it. As she was walking by my office as my listening progressed into the final half hour, I saw her stop in her tracks and listen. After about a minute, she turned toward my door, entered my office, sat in one of my side chairs, and listened to the last 30 minutes with me. She had herself been rode hard and put up wet but could not resist getting enticed into the homestretch only an hour after finishing her read. This was one of those stories from which you hate to exit, and Jeanne found a way to let herself down easier.