Reading Matters

Missing the late Pat Conroy, I look for his blurbs on novels

I miss knowing that the late-great Pat Conroy is out there in this world. Small consolation, but I keep an eye out these days for his blurbs on new books.

I got lucky with “The Cigar Factory: A Novel of Charleston,” by Georgia writer Michele Moore. Conroy wrote the nearly-five-page foreword.

I’m quoting only snippets here – pure, unadulterated Conroy, breathy with fulsome praise:

The Cigar Factory is a large-hearted novel with a cast of characters wholly original in the vast, tempestuous literature of Charleston. ... Michele Moore speaks true-mouth in her brave, authentic, and, I believe, controversial book that equally reveres the lives of black and white working-class Charlestonians. In that act, she has also given birth to a literary vision of Charleston that has never seen the light of day so brightly before.”

Conroy was editor-at-large of Story River Books, and two of those books are just out with back-cover blurbs by him.

Here’s what he says about Carla Damron’s The Stone Necklace,” a novel about a grieving widow, a struggling nurse, a young mother and a troubled homeless man:

“Damron’s masterful portrayal of misery giving way to empathy leads us toward a glimmering hope of redemption for families and a community on the cusp of bold rebirth. This is a novelist to be read again and again.”

And on Gulf Coast novelist Katherine Clark’s All the Governor’s Men,” set in Alabama during George Wallace’s last run for governor in 1982, Conroy wrote:

“...Katherine’s novel illustrates how fools can disguise themselves as idealists, and even as heores, until the mask of idealism falls away to reveal a grotesque – or worse yet – an all-too-human visage beneath. ... Her power as a novelist is on full display in her comic, shrewd and unflagging interrogation of the South on the cusp of reluctant but nonetheless metamorphic change.”