Every year it’s the same. First you’re dusting off your flip-flops; then the kids get out of school. The farmer’s market overflows with watermelons and cherries and fresh basil and brilliant red tomatoes. You keep talking about the beach, but no one wants to go because the traffic will be horrible. You cringe as your neighbors fire off their illegal fireworks. Then one day every single item is on sale at Staples, and you start calling up your teacher friends and making plans for one last lunch or one last coffee, promising to get together again over Christmas break. Then one day you wake up and look around and PAT CONROY MONTH!!! is here. You haven’t even put your decorations up yet. You don’t have a thing to wear.
You can read about the origin of PAT CONROY MONTH!!! here, or you can click on PAT CONROY MONTH!!! on our category list to read all of our posts from September of 2012 and 2013.
I am going to read South of Broad this year. South of Broad is generally believed to be Conroy’s worst book. I read it back in 2009 when it was published, and while I remember being aware of its flaws when I read it, the memory of these flaws have faded, and I feel the way I always do when I am about to start reading a novel by Pat Conroy: as if I’m going home.
Does that mean I won’t be mocking South of Broad? Absolutely not. There will be mockery and derision and pettiness. But I do plan to focus in my reviews on what it’s like to know that a book isn’t very good but love it anyway.
For my second PCM!!! book, I’ve been planning all year to read one of the books Conroy recommends in his nonfiction book called My Reading Life. Pat Conroy identifies Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel as the primary influence on his fiction, so it makes sense to begin with that one. Last year I tried to read it and just couldn’t – that’s how overwrought and melodramatic it was. Maybe this year I will try harder. Other books from My Reading Life include War and Peace, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the novels of Anne Rivers Siddons. I haven’t read any of these, unless reading the first hundred pages of War and Peace at least twelve times counts, so I think my second book for PAT CONROY MONTH!!! this year will come from list. I want to ration out the rest of the novels by Pat Conroy himself – the idea of waking up one morning at the beginning of September and realizing that I have no more books by Pat Conroy to review on the blog sounds terrible to me, and I want to put off that day as long as possible.
As always, our readers are welcome to read along in the Pat Conroy books of their choice. I hope you’ll let us know what you’re doing to celebrate what has now become an official Postcards from Purgatory tradition.
Oh, and also – THIS exists, and nope, I’m never going to unsee it either: