What I’m Reading

I’m just finishing a novel from one of my favorite authors, Pat Conroy, and have several new ones on my reading table for personal consumption.  Here’s a list of what I’m reading or about to read:

SOUTH OF BROAD – Pat Conroy

Charleston, S.C., gossip columnist Leopold Bloom King narrates a paean to his hometown and friends in Conroy’s first novel in 14 years. In the late ’60s and after his brother commits suicide, then 18-year-old Leo befriends a cross-section of the city’s inhabitants: scions of Charleston aristocracy; Appalachian orphans; a black football coach’s son; and an astonishingly beautiful pair of twins, Sheba and Trevor Poe, who are evading their psychotic father. The story alternates between 1969, the glorious year Leo’s coterie stormed Charleston’s social, sexual and racial barricades, and 1989, when Sheba, now a movie star, enlists them to find her missing gay brother in AIDS-ravaged San Francisco. Too often the not-so-witty repartee and the narrator’s awed voice (he is very fond of superlatives) overwhelm the stories surrounding the group’s love affairs and their struggles to protect one another from dangerous pasts. Some characters are tragically lost to the riptides of love and obsession, while others emerge from the frothy waters of sentimentality and nostalgia as exhausted as most readers are likely to be. Fans of Conroy’s florid prose and earnest melodramas are in for a treat.

ARIEL: A BOOK OF THE CHANGE – Steven R. Boyett

It’s been five years since the lights went out, cars stopped in the streets, and magical creatures began roaming Earth.

Pete Garey survived the Change, trusting no one but himself until the day he met Ariel-a unicorn who brought new meaning and adventure to his life.

ALREADY DEAD: A JOE PITT CASEBOOK – Charlie Huston

After two hard-boiled hits, Caught Stealing and Six Bad Things, Huston does an irresistible and fiendishly original take on the vampire myth. Manhattan is teeming with the undead, the island divided into often-warring vampire clans such as the Society, the Hood and the Enclave. The most powerful is the Coalition, whose goal is to protect its members from public scrutiny and persecution. Rogue PI Joe Pitt (aka Simon), who like all vampires is infected with a virus that requires him to drink blood regularly, is hired by Marilee Horde, a prominent New York socialite, to locate her runaway teenage daughter, Amanda, who may be slumming with homeless goth kids in the East Village. Meanwhile, a “carrier” is on the loose, infecting its victims with a bacterium that turns them into brain-eating zombies.

The Coalition wants Pitt to find and destroy the carrier, since the carnage the zombies are causing brings unwanted attention to the undead community. Huston has fun playing with the conventions of the genre, creating his own hip update that will appeal to fans of Quentin Tarantino and Buffy the Vampire Slayer alike.

IN GREAT WATERS – Kit Whitfield

Whitfield (Benighted) creates a fantasy Earth both instantly recognizable and drastically changed: history was altered by the deepsmen, merfolk who first made an appearance at Venice during the Middle Ages and now, a few centuries later, control the seas. They insist that earthly rulers be part-deepsmen, placing halfbreed children such as Henry, terrified to be washed up on shore after five years underwater, and Anne, a king’s clumsy granddaughter, in play for the English throne. The tale’s style is formal and historical, packed thick with detail both overt and subtle. Anne is convincing as inconvenient royalty, the kind the family would rather forget, while Henry embodies the deepsmen’s unhuman priorities and desires. Supporting characters, most neither wholly good nor wholly wicked, are given in stark, memorable detail.

Fans of English history, dense prose and high-level political maneuvering will love it.

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