Now, in Beach Music, he tells of the dark memories that haunt generations, in a story that spans South Carolina and Rome and reaches back into the unutterable terrors of the Holocaust.
Beach Music is about Jack McCall, an American living in Rome with his young daughter, trying to find peace after the recent trauma of his wife's suicide. But his solitude is disturbed by the appearance of his sister-in-law, who begs him to return home, and of two school friends asking for his help in tracking down another classmate who went underground as a Vietnam protester and never resurfaced. These requests launch Jack on a journey that encompasses the past and the present in both Europe and the American South, and that leads him to shocking--and ultimately liberating--truths.
Told with deep feeling and trademark Conroy humor, Beach Music is powerful and compulsively readable. It is another masterpiece in the legendary list of classics that his body of work has already become.
©2009 Pat Conroy; (P)2009 Random House
"Astonishing...stunning...the range of passions and subjects that brings life to every page is almost endless." (The Washington Post Book World)
While it is interesting, it is way too long, laced with barely believable language, incidents and encounters.
Beach Music is a sweeping, stirring, at times kind of rambling saga that shows Pat Conroy for the most part doing what he does best—setting real and believable characters in lush, wonderful settings amidst the very best of human relationships and the very worst of human cruelty. It features all the usual themes familiar to Conroy fans—family relationships, abuse, addiction, sports, mental illness, tragedy—and of course the ever-present Low Country of South Carolina. In this book, however, Conroy takes things a bit further, setting a significant portion of the book in Rome and even reliving two characters’ recollections of the horrors of the Holocaust.
As in all Conroy novels, it is the characters’ relationships and interactions that drive the story. From the opening pages to the somewhat drawn-out ending, Jack McCall’s relationships with his parents, his brothers, and his close-knit circle of friends provide story element after story element. From four high-school boys lost at sea in an open boat to a campus prank gone horribly wrong to inadvertent murder and an international flight from justice, Conroy reaches deep into each character’s backstory to provide a multilayered tapestry of affection and, in many cases, dysfunction.
This is not Conroy’s best work, though it may be his most ambitious. There are some surprising miscues, including several repeated dialog segments and at least one character that seems to have been forgotten about for most of the second half of the book. Nevertheless, the overall strength of the writing manages to make up for what might otherwise be distractions.
The audiobook, while a far cry from the artistry of Frank Muller’s narration of The Prince of Tides, is smooth and enjoyable. Jonathan Marosz’s Southern drawl seems a bit affected at times, but in general he provides fairly accurate and consistent character voices, and the pacing is good throughout.
The story contains the usual amount of language and rough content. Because portions of this book deal with the Holocaust, there is perhaps more dark content here than in Conroy’s others. But as always, Conroy dwells on the horrors people can inflict on each other only as much as is needed to bring out the wonder and joy that comes when individuals and communities overcome such obstacles.
Beach Music, though flawed, is a beautiful book, full of rich characterizations, incredible settings, and the indomitable buoyancy of the human spirit. Pat Conroy fans will enjoy the familiar themes and literary patterns, and the uninitiated will be treated to a wonderful introduction to one of modern America’s truly great authors.
Pat Conroy is an outstanding story teller. When listening I feel as though I am in the room with the characters.
4 young boys fishing on the open ocean...each dealing with adventure in their own way.
Jonathan is a fantastic narrator! It is so hard to choose a favorite.
Many, many moments...
Don't miss this book. It reaches deeply and stays forever.
Pat Conroy is one of the great American storytellers. Conroy's best novels weave together stories of the past to support a grand, almost archetypal story of the here and now. Beach Music felt quite the opposite, as though Conroy had several sweeping stories of the past that he really wanted to use and cobbled together a larger story of two simultaneous gatherings in the life of a Hero only to give the short stories context. The makeshift feeling context holds several superb and divergent short stories of Polish Ghettos under the Nazis, the Vietnam anti war movement, castaway boys on a little boat and many others.
While listening to Beach Music, I kept thinking that if I were reading the book, I probably would not have finished it- but at the same time, lamented the pairing of Jonathan Marosz's very fine, almost urbane narration with Conroy's laid back storytelling style. I wanted a smoother, slower voice that dripped with the honey of the Carolina coast.
Although I think Beach Music would have better been presented as a compilation of short stories, I recommend it: but not for two credits.
Beach Music is another outstanding Pat Conroy Book! I have procrastinated reading Beach Music for about 9 months, moving other Conroy books ahead of it. The reason for the delay was due to the story description not sounding as though the topic of the story would interest me, The use of 2 audible credits, The Title of the book sounding like some romantic sappy romance novel, and the book cover falsely confirming the book was probably a sappy love story. (The 2 best Conroy books available have the 2 most misleading titles. When I tell people my favorite all time book is The Prince of Tides, I usually hear, "You? isn't that a romance novel?" Thank you Barbara Streisand for killing potential book sales with your movie that doesn't remotely resemble the content of the book)
Once I hit play and started in on Beach Music it quickly moved up my list of favorites. After reading / listening to The Prince of Tides last summer I came away wanting my next read to be as good as P.O.T. This is that book! I've now listened to The Lords of Discipline, The Great Santini, South of Broad, and The Prince of Tides and this book feels the closest to The Prince of Tides as all of them!
The narration was excellent though Marosz wasn't able to capture the lightning in a bottle quite as well when it comes to Conroy's sarcastic humor like Frank Muller did in Prince of Tides. But I don't think anyone can recreate Muller's narration miracle in Prince of Tides.
The only criticism I have is what is beginning to appear as the "Conroy comfort zone" As mentioned, I've now read / listened to 5 of Conroy's books and the same story lines with different characters and situations keep popping up in each book. This was the first book of his I listened to and thought to myself on multiple occasions "Again? We've already gone down this road before in 4 other books" It's starting to feel as though these certain subjects are a comfort zone. As though he hits writers block and brings in a theme or topic from an older book changing the details around while keeping the big picture the same.
With that said... Read this one and read the Prince of Tides. In my opinion The 2 best Conroy books. then Lords, then South of Broad, then the Great Santini. Next up on my list is the water is wide.
I first head this book years ago on audio cassettes and was entranced by the flow of the story and the narrator's (Frank Muller) ability to elevate the story even above Pat Conroy's captivating prose. While I am glad to have an audio copy of this book to listen to now and again at work, this narrator's version jangles harshly. Every time I heard him doing the voice for John Hardy, Mike Hess, and Lia I fell out of the stream of the story.
English is not my first language, but this audiobook is easy to understand and I loved it. Beach Music is one of my Top 10 books ...
I mostly listen to thrillers, science fiction & mysteries. This book is not in any of those categories. It is a book that everyone should read or listen. Pat Conroy is the best American writer of this age.
Got tiresome. I was glad when it was over and I normally love Pat Conroy's books.
Southern accents were fake.
I am a long time listener of audiobooks and am particular about narrators -- they make or break the book. If you like southern accents, Jonathan Marosz does an excellent job. I read Beach Music quite some time ago but because it was set in the south and I loved the book, I took a chance on the audio version. Beach Music is up at the top of my list of best audiobooks. Listen -- you won't be disappointed!
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