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Authors: Pat Conroy

Beach Music

BOOK: Beach Music
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Critical Acclaim for Pat Conroy and
BEACH MUSIC

“Blockbuster writing at its best.”


Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Incandescent.”


The Atlanta Journal and Constitution

“Conroy has not lost his touch

[
Beach Music
] sings with the familiar elegiac Southern cadences, his prose is sweepingly lyrical.”


Publishers Weekly

“Grand.”


The Boston Globe

“Lyrical … evocative … 
Beach Music
is one from the heart, and it beats with a vibrancy that cannot be denied.”


The Hartford Courant

“A powerful, heartfelt tale.”


Houston Chronicle

“Breathtaking … perhaps the most eagerly awaited book of the year … a knockout.”


The Charlotte Observer

“Beach Music
attains an almost ethereal beauty.”


The Miami Herald

“Few novelists write as well, and none as beautifully … Conroy’s narrative is so fluid and poetic that it’s apt to seduce you into reading just one more page, just one more chapter.”


Lexington Herald-Leader

“Masterful.”


Newsday

“Fans of Conroy will revel in his pages and pages of lush, lyrical prose, and his wonderfully vivid characters.”


Chattanooga News-Free Press

“Compelling storytelling … a page-turner … Conroy takes aim at our darkest emotions, lets the arrow fly and hits a bull’s-eye almost every time.”


Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“Conroy is an outstanding storyteller.”


The Birmingham News

“Lyrical.”


Cosmopolitan

By Pat Conroy

THE WATER IS WIDE

THE GREAT SANTINI

THE LORDS OF DISCIPLINE

THE PRINCE OF TIDES

MY LOSING SEASON

THE PAT CONROY COOKBOOK:
RECIPES OF MY LIFE
And coming soon from Pat Conroy

SOUTH OF BROAD

Beach Music
is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

2009 Dial Press Trade Paperback Edition

Copyright © 1995 by Pat Conroy
Reading group guide copyright © 2009 by Random House, Inc.

All rights reserved.

Published in the United States by Dial Press Trade Paperbacks, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.

T
HE
D
IAL
P
RESS
and D
IAL
P
RESS
T
RADE
P
APERBACKS
are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc., and the colophon is a trademark of Random House, Inc.

R
ANDOM
H
OUSE
R
EADER’S
C
IRCLE
and colophon is a registered trademark of
Random House, Inc.

Originally published in hardcover in the United States by Doubleday, an imprint of
The Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., in 1995.

eISBN: 978-0-307-80473-0

www.dialpress.com
www.randomhousereaderscircle.com

v3.1

Acknowledgments

With special thanks to the following:

S
USANNAH
A
NSLEY
C
ONROY
, my youngest daughter and the great gift of my middle age, whom I love with my heart.

T
IM
B
ELK
, life-friend, piano man, Southerner in San Francisco.

D
OUG
M
ARLETTE
, my “Kudzu” friend, who has shown me that the artist works only with fire.

The novelist M
ICHAEL
M
EWSHAW
and L
INDA
K
IRBY
M
EWSHAW
, who taught me the meaning of hospitality and made The Roman Years the magic ones.

D
R
. M
ARION
O
‘NEILL
, lifesaver and Hilton Head Islander.

N
AN
T
ALESE
, my brilliant and lovely editor. My wish is that every writer could have such a magnificent editing experience.

J
ULIAN
B
ACH
, my agent and the last, great gentleman; and M
ARLY
R
USOFF
, my longtime Minnesota friend and one of the great loves of my life.

C
OL
. J
OSEPH
W
ESTER
J
ONES
, J
R.
, and J
EAN
G
AULDIN
J
ONES
of Newbern, Tennessee, for their generosity, courage, and class.

And their son, C
APT
. J
OSEPH
W. J
ONES
III, American hero, KIA Vietnam, the father of my two oldest daughters, who did not live to see the lovely women his girls would become.

And to these essential ones:

Lenore and the kids, Jessica, Melissa, Megan,
Gregory, and Emily, Melinda and Jackson Marlette,
Betty Roberts, Margaret Holly, Dennis Adams,
Nuri Lindberg, Jane and Stan Lefco, Eugene Norris,
Bill Dufford, Sallie and Dana Sinkler, Sylvia Peto,
Sigmund and Frances Graubart, Cliff and Cynthia
Graubart, Anne Rivers and Heyward Siddons, Terry
and Tommie Kay, Mary Wilson and Gregg Smith,
Bill and Trish McCann, Joseph and Kathleen Alioto,
Yanek and Mary Chiu, Henry and Liselle Matheson,
Elayne Scott, Brooke Brunson, Carol Tuynman, Joy
Hager, Ann Torrago, Bea Belk, Sonny and Katie
Rawls, Diane Marcus, Sandee Yuen, Jesse Cohen,
Stephen Rubin, Chris Pavone, Bill and Lynne
Kovach, Herb and Gert Gurewitz, Steve, Riva,
Peter, Ann, and Jonathan Rosenfield, Rachel
Resnick, Dick and Patsy Lowry, Morgan and Julia
Randels, the people of Fripp Island, the families and
teachers of the Convent of the Sacred Heart in San
Francisco, the Sobols, the Pollaks, the O’Hearns, the
Nisbets, the Harpers of Central Florida, and the
Gillespies of Jacksonville, my in-laws, Jean, Janice,
Teri, and Bobby, also my niece, Rachel, and my
nephews, Willie and Michael. And a fond bow to
my first grandchild, Elise Michelle.

Contents
Note to the Reader

I am grateful to those who shared their memories and experiences of the Holocaust with me and thus made this book possible:

Martha Popowski Berlin, whose parents, Henry and Paula, were Holocaust survivors, and it was Martha who helped me begin the journey that led to this book. The Atlanta Jewish Community Center, the Children of Holocaust Survivors—Atlanta. The Northern California Holocaust Center, and the Lourie and Friedman families, who welcomed me to their family reunion in Charleston. Thanks also to the many Jewish families in Atlanta who told their stories to me or my researcher, the artist Miriam Karp. I’m grateful to the Old New York Bookshop for publishing the pamphlet
During the Russian Administration: With the Jews of Stanislawow During the Holocaust
, by Abraham Liebesman. The translator from the Hebrew was Sigmund Graubart.

Prologue

I
n 1980, a year after my wife leapt to her death from the Silas Pearlman Bridge in Charleston, South Carolina, I moved to Italy to begin life anew, taking our small daughter with me. Our sweet Leah was not quite two when my wife, Shyla, stopped her car on the highest point of the bridge and looked over, for the last time, the city she loved so well. She had put on the emergency brake and opened the door of our car, then lifted herself up to the rail of the bridge with the delicacy and enigmatic grace that was always Shyla’s catlike gift. She was also quick-witted and funny, but she carried within her a dark side that she hid with bright allusions and an irony as finely wrought as lace. She had so mastered the strategies of camouflage that her own history had seemed a series of well-placed mirrors that kept her hidden from herself.

It was nearly sunset and a tape of the
Drifters’ Greatest Hits
poured out of the car’s stereo. She had recently had our car serviced and the gasoline tank was full. She had paid all the bills and set up an appointment with Dr. Joseph for my teeth to be cleaned. Even in her final moments, her instincts tended toward the orderly and the functional. She had always prided herself in keeping her madness invisible and at bay; and when she could no longer fend off the voices that grew inside her, their evil set to chaos in a minor key, her breakdown enfolded upon her, like a tarpaulin pulled across that part of her brain where once there had been light. Having served her
time in mental hospitals, exhausted the wide range of pharmaceuticals, and submitted herself to the priestly rites of therapists of every theoretic persuasion, she was defenseless when the black music of her subconscious sounded its elegy for her time on earth.

BOOK: Beach Music
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