from my bookshelf: the prince of tides by pat conroy


if you have never read pat conroy, start with this one.

the prince of tides is about former football player tom wingo and his complicated relationship with his family and his past, comprised of his family, friends, and south carolina hometown. tom’s older brother, luke, dies too young. his twin sister who is a published poet, savannah, lives in new york city and struggles with depression after attempting suicide. insert the members of your own family and let prince of tides be the therapy you never asked for.


“My wound is geography. It is also my anchorage, my port of call.”

“So my father went back to the river and my mother grew more silent and more embittered and the Wingos ended up as the only family in Colleton County with a tiger who could jump through a burning ring as a pet.”

“In the lowcountry, the smell of the marshlands is offensive to visitors, but is the fragrant essence of the planet to the native born. Our nostrils quiver with the incense of home, the keen pastille of our mother country. Palmettos close ranks at the head of each peninsula and the creek divides into smaller creeks like a vein flowering into capillaries. A stingray swims just below the surface like a bird in nightmare. The wind lifts off the island, a messenger bearing the odor of moonsage and honeysuckle and jasmine. In an instant the smell of the night changes, recedes, deepens, then recedes again. It is sharp as vinaigrette, singular as bay rum.”

“There was my father, the source of all these lives, the source of all these tears, crying now, crying hard and without shame. The tears were water, salt water, and i could see the ocean behind him, could smell it, could taste my own tears, the sea and hurt within me leaking out into the sunlight and my children crying to see me cry. the story of my family was the story of salt water, of boats and shrimp, of tears and storm.”


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