Thursday, August 16, 2007

Southern Women

I've said before and I'll say again, more than for any other reason, we love authors according to their ability to put into words far better than our own, the philosophies we believe we hold, or the observations we believe we've made, but could never have captured so perfectly. To wit, as I began The Lords of Discipline, my first Pat Conroy novel (an admission that shames me), I was no further than 4 pages into the prologue before I knew I will likely have read the entire Conroy canon by this time next year:

My mother is a different case. As lovely a woman as I have ever seen, bread and nurtured like a gardenia, she has always seemed somehow odorless and sexless to me, yet viscerally seductive in the manner of Southern women, that taloned species who speak with restrained and self-effacing drawls, fill a room with elegance and vulnerability, move with the grace of wind-tilted cane, and rule their families with a secret pact of steel. The sweetness of Southern women often conceals the secret deadliness of snakes. It has helped them survive the impervious tyranny of Southern men more comfortable with a myth than a flesh-and-blood woman.