I was thinking the other day about books and summer and books to read in summer. I was thinking about books mainly that I have read before, since I never seem to do as much reading anymore, and one particular book came back to me. The Prince of Tides is an amazing piece of fiction by Pat Conroy. I say this because it is an intricately complicated story about a southern family written it in the most beautiful language. It was also a movie, of course, and it is quiet possible to cheat, but I must recommend the book for fiction aficionados.
Tom Wingo, the narrator of the story, makes the reader feel his southern childhood. He loves the land, it is very much a part of him and this is given in the prologue of the book:
“My wound is geography. It is also my anchorage, my port of call.”
As the reader travels along with Tom in the story, the vivid descriptions of that South Carolina landscape color the tale and draw people right into it:
“It was growing dark on this long southern evening and suddenly, at the exact point her finger had indicated, the moon lifted a forehead of stunning gold above the horizon, lifted straight out of filigreed, light-intoxicated clouds that lay on the skyline in attendant veils. Behind us, the sun was setting in a simultaneous congruent withdrawal and the river turned to flame in a quiet duel of gold…”
The family dynamics are much less than perfect, there is heartbreak, there are secrets, death and mourning, and relationships that form but cannot be sustained.
“The Wingos were a family that fate tested a thousand times and left defenseless, humiliated, and dishonored. But my family also carried some strengths into the fray, and these strengths let almost all of us survive the descent of the Furies….”
This is an old book that was first published in 1986, and the movie was released in 1991 with Nick Nolte in the starring role as Tom Wingo and Barbra Streisand as the psychiatrist that he falls in love with while attempting to help his sister suffering from depression.
There are a lot of good books out there, but every now and then I like to come back to one that I feel is special as I believe this one fits the criteria. I would have to say that my current book (both in terms of reading and publication date) which happens to be, The Storied Life Of A.J. Fikry, well… I would have to say that I could easily be lured away from it. The Prince of Tides may be the book that lures me. A truly compelling piece of fiction; Pat Conroy is not only a master of storytelling but also a master of lyrical language.