Friday, August 21, 2009

South of Broad by Pat Conroy

When it comes time to choose the last book of the summer, I am always torn. So little time, so many books - as the saying goes. But when I read an article in Southern Living Magazine about the new Pat Conroy novel set in Charleston, South Carolina, I went out and bought the book the day it went on sale. I'm a sucker for Conroy's blowsy prose. This book is supposed to be Conroy's love song to Charleston, and it is. The plot drags on, the characters are caricatures (the Southern debutante, the first Black Police Chief, the buxom film star), but my friend Anne once said reading Conroy is like reading whipped cream. So put a cherry on the summer! It has been a great summer for reading.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

A fitting bookend to our summer civil rights pilgrimage seemed to be The Help, which is currently #2 on the NY Times book. The title refers to the African American house servants who made many lives so comfortable for Southern women in the early 1960s. Stockett is a graduate of The University of Alabama and this book is her way of making peace with the women who aided her childhood, and who she never really thought to interview about their own lives, as her main character does in this wonderful, realistic novel. This will be an addition to book lists for my students in the future.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor

Having traveled to Flannery O'Connor's Andalusia Farm in Milledgeville, Georgia, and since Wise Blood was listed on the Free Response AP Literature and Composition book list, I decided to give it a try. I was a bit curious since, when I told the curator of the O'Connor property that the book was listed on this year's test, his response was -
"I can't imagine any state allowing the teaching of that book. Not here in the South!" Well all of O'Connor's typical freak show of characters are present in this amorally religious, Southern Gothic novel. I've have decided I'll definitely never teach it, but we did buy the John Huston film to watch someday. My favorite O'Connor quote - “WHENEVER I’M ASKED WHY SOUTHERN WRITERS PARTICULARLY HAVE A PENCHANT FOR WRITING ABOUT FREAKS, I SAY IT IS BECAUSE WE ARE STILL ABLE TO RECOGNIZE ONE.”

For other glimpses into our travels this summer -