Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Beach Music

I mistakenly got Beach Music by Pat Conroy at the library last week.  I meant to get his newest book, but forgot the name of it and got Beach Music instead.  As I began reading it, I was aware of some things sounding very vaguely familiar.  I looked and saw that it was written in 1995.  Then I realized that I even had it on my bookshelves.  I had read it 15 years ago!  I don't know how I forgot that I had read it, because it ended up being one of the best books that I have ever read.  It is a great book.  I felt like I disappeared into it for the past week.  It is so good!

As the back of the book states it is "the story of Jack McCall, an American expatriate in Rome, scarred by tragedy and betrayal.  His desperate desire to find peace after his wife's suicide draws him into a painful, intimate search for the one haunting secret in his family's past that can heal his anguished heart."

The story is about a Southern family, South Carolina to be exact.  The McCall family consists of five brothers, their mother Lucy and their father who never stops drinking.  Jack is running from his wife's suicide, yes, but he is also running from his father, his brothers, his friends, the Holocaust and Viet Nam.  He took his young daughter, Leah, to Rome to escape all.  However, his mother, Lucy, becomes ill and Jack is called home.  And so it all begins.  The past begins to unravel.  As it must for any healing to occur.

Some of the most moving writing:

"Jordan told me he broke down when he heard those words,spoken aloud, the ones he always believed in his heart to be true.  He felt himself break open in a deep undiscovered place, one of the dark spaces he had created for himself as a boy. He had wept enough in his life to keep a small aquarium of saltwater fish alive, but the tears had been fierce and private.  In front of this small, kind doctor he felt them run down his face in hot spillings.  The tears came fast because the secret was out and this odd-shaped unassuming man had gotten his mother to admit their mutual nightmare at last."

"She didn't notice that I was weeping until my brothers grew quiet.  We stopped dancing and I sat down on the porch steps.  My child held me as the song her mother and I had loved best in the world completely undid me.  I could bear the memory, but I could not bear the music that made the memory such a killing thing."
And on and on...I was so touched by this book.  There must have been some reason that I ended up reading this book again.

Pat Conroy's writing is exquisite.  I was so totally drawn into the story.  Prince of Tides has always been one of my favorite books and I will be re-reading it this summer.  I have begun the newest book, South of Broad, that I originally set out to read.  I miss Jack McCall already.