Pat Conroy's latest book takes aim at 'South of Broad'

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Pat Conroy, The Lowcountry's legendary author of The Water is Wide, The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline, The Prince of Tides, Beach Music, and My Losing Season is back at it and set to release a new book that has downtown charleston all a fervor; it's called "South of Broad."

The question is, of course, will Charleston's cultural elite be flayed as John Berendt did with Savannah in "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," or will Conroy have a different focus?

Here's a bit about what to expect from the book overview:

Against the sumptuous backdrop of Charleston, South Carolina, South of Broad gathers a unique cast of sinners and saints. Leopold Bloom King, our narrator, is the son of an amiable, loving father who teaches science at the local high school. His mother, an ex-nun, is the high school principal and a well-known Joyce scholar. After Leo's older brother commits suicide at the age of thirteen, the family struggles with the shattering effects of his death, and Leo, lonely and isolated, searches for something to sustain him. Eventually, he finds his answer when he becomes part of a tightly knit group of high school seniors that includes friends Sheba and Trevor Poe, glamorous twins with an alcoholic mother and a prison-escapee father; hardscrabble mountain runaways Niles and Starla Whitehead; socialite Molly Huger and her boyfriend, Chadworth Rutledge X; and an ever-widening circle whose liaisons will ripple across two decades-from 1960s counterculture through the dawn of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s.

The ties among them endure for years, surviving marriages happy and troubled, unrequited loves and unspoken longings, hard-won successes and devastating breakdowns, and Charleston's dark legacy of racism and class divisions. But the final test of friendship that brings them to San Francisco is something no one is prepared for South of Broad is Pat Conroy at his finest; a long-awaited work from a great American writer whose passion for life and language knows no bounds.

The Wall Street Journal has a taste of the new book, offering up a substantial chunk of chapter one and Conroy's account of delivering newspaper on June 16, 1969.

And before you go thinking Conroy changed the name of The Post and Courier to "News and Courier" to hid its identity, know that that's what the paper was call back in the day before its merger with The Evening Post.

Conroy's 528-page book goes on sale August 11. -- The book is already number 76 on Amazon, and a pick in Time's summer arts preview.

I'm already looking forward to it, in no small part as it's been nearly five years since Conroy's last book.