I love to read.
I have to start with that, because as much as I love reading, I struggle to carve out the time for it. Right now there is a stack of five books on my nightstand, not including the Nook holding several more within its memory.
That said, I had the opportunity to select a semi-random book earlier this summer, as Steve and I wandered into a used bookstore while on a weekend getaway.
Are you overwhelmed, yet? I certainly was! When Steve told me to choose a book to read, I had no idea where to begin. I had to fight the urge to be completely overwhelmed by the amount of words, thoughts, and facts contained within the pages of the books on those shelves.
I get weird like that, sometimes!
My eyes landed on a thick book by a familiar author, Pat Conroy. Having read Prince of Tides, I thought I would see what his book Beach Music was about. The back cover sang its praises, and I was beginning to feel anxious about the time I was taking, so I selected it and tossed it onto the counter.
Here. This one, I guess.
Returning to our hotel, we took our books to the pool and began reading and relaxing, something that had become foreign to me.
Beach Music begins tragically, then wisks the reader to Rome, a bonus, seeing as how I have actually been there. I could experience the scenes, sights, smells, and sounds even more vividly with the help of the author’s descriptions.
What I enjoyed most about this book was its richness of writing and its focus on story. The story of the characters. The back story to the tragedy. The way stories intertwine and weave together. The way that how we choose to reject, rewrite, or embrace our story affects us and those we love (and hate!).
All of this is covered in Beach Music.
Family. Friendship. Love. Loss. Betrayal. Redemption. Grace. Understanding. Life. Sickness. Death. Grief. Joy. It’s all there.
Passages like this are what draws me in to this writing. . .
American men are allotted just as many tears as American women. But because we are forbidden to shed them, we die long before women do, with our hearts exploding or our blood pressure rising or our livers eaten away by alcohol because that lake of grief inside us has no outlet. We, men, die because our faces were not watered enough.
And this. . .
In the house Dr. Pitts (the stepdad) exploded after I had taken Lucy (the boys’, now men’s, mother) to her bedroom and she had recovered strength enough to take a sip of water and change into her nightclothes before she fell asleep. (Lucy is dying of Leukemia and has just had a collapsing episode on the beach.)
“I have something to say to you boys,” Dr. Pitts began as he poured himself a tumbler full of scotch. “I know you love your mother and I know she loves you. But you’ll kill her faster if you don’t get control of yourselves. All of you need to learn to be part of a room without filling it up. You need to learn to be in a scene without being the whole scene. You don’t need to be the funniest, the wildest, the craziest, the weirdest, or the loudest person on earth to get Lucy’s attention. She loves all of you. But there’s too much commotion around you boys. I demand that you quit turning every single thing into an event. Everything is over the top when you guys are around. Learn to relax. To muse things over. To look at things calmly and at a normal pace. Why is that impossible with you McCalls? Why must every day seem like a home movie from the Apocolypse? Your mother needs rest from all of this. She needs quiet. . .Things move from an event, then a spectacle, then an extravaganza. You attract noise and disorder. You’re all in love with what’s bad for Lucy. You’re killing her. You boys are killing what you can’t stand to say good-bye to. . .”
So that is what I was reading in the backyard as I rested in my mess.