Those of us who are fans of the late Pat Conroy will have another reason to travel to the South Carolina Lowcountry. The noprofit Pat Conroy Center will soon open in Beaufort in support of local authors and the act of writing. A fundraising campaign is underway. You can learn more about it here. According to the Associated Press, Barbra Streisand and John Grisham are among the honorary board members. The effort is being spearheaded by Conroy’s widow author Cassandra King.
Meanwhile, a nonfiction collection of articles, letters and essays called A Low Country Heart will be published this fall.
Currently in between new books, I’m re-reading The Lords of Discipline. Like many of Conroy’s books, it is–in addition to the plot–a lyrical prose poem about Charleston and South Carolina Lowcountry. For many, Conroy’s writing is too lyrical, though not as over the top as Thomas Wolfe who was an influence on Conroy. I appreciate the turns of phrase and the use of words. I will admit that I’m having to shift gears to get back to Conroy after finishing two Stephen King books.
Favorite Pat Conroy Passages
- “My wound is geography. It is also my anchorage, my port of call.” – The Prince of Tides
- “Do you think that Hemingway knew he was a writer at twenty years old? No, he did not. Or Fitzgerald, or Wolfe. This is a difficult concept to grasp. 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” – My Losing Season: A Memoir
“There is such a thing as too much beauty in a woman and it is often a burden as crippling as homeliness and far more dangerous. It takes much luck and integrity to survive the gift of perfect beauty, and its impermanence is its most cunning betrayal.” ― The Prince of Tides
- “Charleston has a landscape that encourages intimacy and partisanship. I have heard it said that an inoculation to the sights and smells of the Carolina lowcountry is an almost irreversible antidote to the charms of other landscapes, other alien geographies. You can be moved profoundly by other vistas, by other oceans, by soaring mountain ranges, but you can never be seduced. You can even forsake the lowcountry, renounce it for other climates, but you can never completely escape the sensuous, semitropical pull of Charleston and her marshes.” ― The Lords of Discipline
- Behind us, the sun was setting in a simultaneous congruent withdrawal and the river turned to flame in a quiet duel of gold….The new gold of moon astonishing and ascendant, he depleted gold of sunset extinguishing itself in the long westward slide, it was the old dance of days in the Carolina marshes, the breathtaking death of days before the eyes of children, until the sun vanished, its final signature a ribbon of bullion strung across the tops of water oaks.” ― The Prince of Tides
- “The tide was a poem that only time could create, and I watched it stream and brim and makes its steady dash homeward, to the ocean.” ― South of Broad
Word is, Conroy had submitted a portion of the novel he was working on when he died in March. Naturally, the publisher is searching for notes, outlines and other materials to see whether the book can be finished. In many ways, I hope they can’t find what they need because having it finished by another author just wouldn’t be the same.
Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Conjure Woman’s Cat” and other novels.