Monday, December 19, 2011

Prince of Tides

Before Prince of Tides, the Movie, there was Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy. The paperback copy that I own makes it look like a romance novel, and I'll post a photo of the back cover soon. I couldn't find one on the internet.

I've read it twice, and been in awe of Conroy's use of language both times. It tells the deeply moving story of one horribly dysfunctional family in South Carolina, and what happens when the sister of the main character tries to take her own life. Her brother travels to New York City to help her recover, and ends up telling his family's story to her psychiatrist.

Chapter 4 begins:
There are no verdicts to childhood, only consequences, and the freight of memory. I speak now of the sun-struck, deeply lived-in days of my past. I am more fabulist than historian, but I will try to give you the insoluble, unedited terror of my youth.

Later, in Chapter 5:
I spent the first few days reviewing the tapes that so chillingly recorded the extent of my sister's breakdown. She spoke in hurt fragments of language. I wrote her screams down on paper, studied them, and each day startled myself with some clear vision of memory I had repressed or forgotten. Each of her phrases, no matter how surreal or bizarre, had a foundation in reality, and each memory led to another and another until my head blazed with small intricate geometries of illumination. the unconscious I began to encounter both wild fruit and vast disciplined vineyards. I tried to censor the superfluous or the commonplace, yet I knew large truths lay hidden in the clovers, sweet grasses and wild mint. As gleaner of my sister's troubled past, I wanted to leave nothing out but wished to find the one rose that might contain the image of the tiger when found blooming on the trellis.

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