Tell Me A Story

“The most powerful words in the English language are “tell me a story…” Pat Conroy, My Reading Life

My regular readers know that I’m  an admirer of Pat Conroy, certainly one of the most Southern of our Southern writers. The insights he offers to writers and readers in My Reading Life however,  transcend place.  In this book, he discusses the books and the reading experiences that have shaped his life as a writer. He writes about his habit of keeping  journals and notebooks in which he records words that intrigue him, expressions he hears spoken on the streets, turns of phrase and snippets of sound  that find their way into his novels. He gives us glimpses into his days in Paris, the lessons learned from a beloved English teacher and from trips to the library with his mother. About her, he writes: “My mother hungered for art, for illumination, for some path to led her to a shining way to call her own. She lit signal fires for her son to feel and follow. I tremble with gratitude as I honor her name.”

Wow. I don’t know about you, but that is why I write: to provide illumination, signal fires, a shining path for my readers to follow.

His chapter called The Book Rep describes with humor and humility a trip he took with the sales rep charged with selling his novel, The Water is Wide, and should be required reading for any aspiring author  wanting to know how book selling works.

Here’s a link to a seven minute video in which he talks about how he writes his novels, followed by a short reading from his most recent novel, South of Broad. When you watch this video and listen to his lyrical language,  you will understand why I love Charleston so much, and why I am in love with Pat Conroy’s words.  When you get to this site, scroll down till you see the video screen. Then press the Play symbol and prepare to be enchanted.

As Pat says about  himself, “My my, that boy can go on and on.”  I for one hope that boy goes on and on for a long time to come.