Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Prince of Tides

Pat Conroy's The Prince of Tides is one of my favorites. I read it when it was first published and have read it three more times over the years. I've used passages as illustrations for sermons. I used the book in CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) to explain family dynamics. I love this Conroy book more than I do his other novels. I've read the novels but Tides is the best.

I saw the movie, based on the book, with Barbra Streisand and Nick Nolte. It was dreadful. I like Barbra's movies and saw Nick in Tides before I saw his mug shot at I like Nick as an actor, too. However, the movie is the pits and does not convey the power of the novel. Many movies from novels are not good but Tides was a big disappointment.

I found Tides on audio tape at a garage sale. Richard Thomas, an actor I appreciate and think of as a decent guy, reads the novel.

I could just cry. Thomas reads Conroy badly. First, Thomas' Southern accent is hokey and silly. He doesn't even pronounce "kudzu" correctly. His researchers should have prompted him on the loveliness of a masculine South Carolina accent. Nope. He reads or declaims the novel as though it the words don't matter.

Conroy's narrator, Tom Wingo, is not a fool or silly. He should be read with seriousness, not mockery as he tells a story of great pain and betrayal. The prose is beautiful enough to make me cry but the reading was dreadful. Thomas' voice is appealing in other settings but the man cannot do a Southern accent and I wish a Southerner could have heard Thomas and stopped him from doing the audio book.

I fret that people who saw the movie or heard the audio book won't read the novel. The novel is wonderful with funny stories, astounding meanness and an appreciation for the South that resonates with me.

I listen to audio tapes weekly because of my child-hauling and trips up through the county to church. I love this medium of hearing books spoken out loud.

I'm trashing the Tides audio tapes. I don't want another person to be put off the novel by listening to the tapes. I mean it.


Aola said...

I'm glad you posted this because I would have never read the book based on the few minutes of the movie that I watched before turning it off.
Now I have a new book to put on my wishlist.

reverendmother said...

Oh Aola, it is a lovely book.

St. Cass, what do you think of The Water is Wide? I read the book when I was thinking about going into teaching. (I guess I sort of did.) Anyway, there was a quote near the end that I carried around with me for months, that went something like "My heart sings when a young person calls me 'teacher.' I've honored myself and the entire family of man by becoming one."

Wasn't Pat Conroy a teacher? I felt like there was a little bit of himself poking through there, but it didn't bother me.

Anyway, it's heartbreaking when another medium trashes a book. I'm on pins and needles about The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. And don't get me started on Simon Birch, the wretched movie version of A Prayer for Owen Meany. Why did they even try.

revmom/cheesehead said...

Notes to self: 1. Read Prince of Tides. 2.Be Glad I forgot about seeing the film. 3. Resolve to never, ever listen to audio tapes of P of T. 4. Remain strong in resolve to not see the film Simon Birch.

A Prayer for Owen Meany is the book that turned me on to Irving. I went on to read everything else he'd done. I loved it!

Songbird said...

All I know about Pat Conroy is that he was a mean landlord to some friends of mine (or so they claimed) and that The Great Santini was devastating for my mom and one of my college friends, both of whom had mean, career-military fathers.
But if you say Prince of Tides is that good, I'll add it to the pile.

Anonymous said...

"My wound is geography." My memory of a great Conroy opening line. Prince of Tides, I believe. A book of family pain and secrets. A combination of many OT books for Southerners.