Saturday, September 05, 2009

Why I Fear Pat's New One

Have you ever been afraid of a book, not wanting to begin it because you have reason to believe that it will disappoint you? It has happened to me on more than one occasion, usually with a book I have looked forward to getting my hands on for months, or even years. Sometimes I found my fears to have been misguided, other times I found them to have been legitimate. It's been about a 50-50 proposition in the past.

That is the position I find myself in now with the new Pat Conroy novel, South of Broad. I know, I know. I'm not supposed to let myself be influenced by the opinions of others, be they professional critics or readers/dabblers like me. I'm supposed to read the book myself, decide why I like or dislike it, and then tell the world about it. That's the way it always works - but when the book is by one of my top two or three favorite writers, I find myself hesitating to get on with it.

I mean, look at the Amazon link, above, and you will find 215 customer reviews that average out to an overall rating of 3.5 out of 5.0 stars for the book. This is Pat Conroy we're talking about and this is a book his fans have waited not so patiently for for the last 14 years. And it gets 3.5 stars from 215 readers? How can that be? Even the pros are giving South of Broad mixed reviews, so I can't blow it off by saying that it's just amateurs like me getting it wrong.

I know I'm going to have to crack it open soon...butI dread it.

17 comments:

  1. How funny! I have the book and I have had exactly the same experience! Too much exposure to some pretty bad reviews, and yet, wanting to read it, resulting in dread....

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  2. This book is full of the kind of excess and mayhem that only Conroy can do well. I would not put up with so many words from any other living writer, but when Conroy pens them, they are magical.

    Conroy uses the most beautiful language -- it just made me want to read some sentences over and over. I found myself reading some parts aloud, just to hear the way the words resonated.

    And the man sure knows how to tell a story!

    As one of my friends, who also loved the book said..."he is on a joyride of words".

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  3. I never listen to or read reviews of my favorite authors, preferring to make my own decisions. Unfortunately, I was disappointed with South of Broad for the simple reason that it didn't 'ring true' like all of his previous novels. And I missed that. I read it though, and hope he finds his stride again.

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  4. I know the feeling. Unfortunately, when I've had the feeling, the book in questions has always turned out to be a disappointment.

    I hope this is not the case for you and Mr. Conroy's new book.

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  5. No one evokes the sensations of the South like Conroy. Although this novel is so much shorter than his other novels, (and one minor character completely disappears), it is a joy to reasd just for the language. It's a disappointlent to finish his novels because the wait for the next one is so long. JoAnn's friend is so right...a joyride of words.

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  6. Rhapsody, jump in. I did this weekend and I'm loving the book so far.

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  7. JoAnn, that is so true. I've read two hundred pages of the novel in the last two days and I'm really into the book. I like Pat's flowery style - it's all very Southern and it's what makes Pat Conroy Pat Conroy. The set-up has been beautifully done and I can't wait to see where he is going next with these characters.

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  8. Gaston, I'm OK with the "reality" of the plot so far. It reminds me of some of John Irving's writing in which the characters are eccentric and strange and drive the story by their very presence.

    I hear it gets way too coincidental in later sections but I'm not far enough into the story yet to have experienced any of that.

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  9. C.B., I'm feeling better about it so far - 200 pages read and 300 to go. I'm keeping my fingers crossed as I go through each chapter. :-)

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  10. Judi, Pat Conroy's writing is beautiful and a bit excessive at the same time, I think. But that's his style and I love it. It is all very deep Southern and I think Pat does "Southern" as well as I've ever seen it done. 14 years is a long time between novels, though, and I hope Pat doesn't try that again...I want more than one or two novels from this giant of a writer.

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  11. Like you, I have Conroy's book on my pile and the reviews out there make me afraid to pick it up. It's up next on deck, however, as soon as I finish Reich's Rules of Vengeance.

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  12. Hi Sam - I've been waiting to hear how you like this book!!

    I loved it. simply loved it. But - I'm probably not a fair and just person to judge 'cause I would love anything he writes, even (as the old saying goes) his grocery list.

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  13. Kaye, I'm almost 300 pages in and I'm loving it, too. I haven't seen anything that I would call excessively coincidental yet...that's what I am afraid of finding.

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  14. Jump in with confidence, Reader23. I'm almost 60% of the way through and I'm thoroughly enjoying it to that point.

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  15. A good friend has been talking about this book forEVER. Of course she scooped it up the day it was released and has promised me that I'll LOVE it. I'm always a bit hesitant to read books so highly recommended by such close friends. We shall see. Glad to hear it's going good for you so far! :)

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  16. Rosemary, I'm 400 pages in now and enjoying every bit of it. I'm relieved.

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  17. I am so glad you are continuing to enjoy this book, Sam.

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