Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Go Read The Prince of Tides and Beach Music Again

I suppose I may be the last one to hear about this controversy, but in case I'm not and YOU are, take a look at this letter by Pat Conroy printed in the Charleston Gazette recently.

In a nutshell, Conroy's books, The Prince of Tides and Beach Music, have been removed (read "banned") from two high school classes in Charleston, West Virginia. Where I'm from, I hope such a ban would be considered blasphemy. Pat Conroy is the living father of Southern literature. His work has influenced today's writers and brought beautiful attention and acclaim to our lovely slice of the nation.

God bless the English teacher who showed Conroy the world could be found in the pages of a book--that empathy for others and all of life's experiences are written in ink by passionate, creative thinkers. When I was starting out, a fledgling author with a full heart, a completed manuscript and no clue about how cruel the world can be to writers who expose their souls on paper, Pat Conroy stepped up and gave me words of wisdom. He blurbed my debut novel, The Spirit of Sweetgrass. He took time me, for a nobody. I will never forget it.

I will always consider Pat Conroy to be a pioneer in Southern literature. He does not write what is popular. He writes what he must.

So in honor of him and all of us authors whose books may be banned next, I'm going to go comb my shelves, pick up my copy of The Prince of Tides, and I'm going to read it again. Better yet, I think I'll pass it on to an intelligent high school upperclassman when I'm done. As for the violence and language inside, today's youth are exposed to as bad or worse in daily life or in reading the newspaper. Aren't they? At least give them some chance to see that souls can be redeemed in the midst of chaos. That tiny bits of light exist even in darkness if we look hard enough. That the real world is not all roses and joy, but despite this fact, true beauty is found by learning to read between the lines. As a writer and liver of life, that's what I know to be true.

Happy reading.

Nicole Seitz is the author of The Spirit of Sweetgrass and upcoming novel, Trouble the Water. Visit her website at


River Jordan said...

Pat Conroy - banned???? I don't get it. And trust me, you weren't the last to know. That's scary for all of us. Thanks for supporting a man that continues giving through his words and his heart.

On another note, I have been hearing BEAUTIFUL things about not only your book but your kindness to new writers working their way to the published pages. Kudo's to you also!


Nicole Seitz said...

Hi River,
That's the sweetest note. Thank you. You made my day.

And yes, if it can happen to Pat Conroy, it can happen to anyone.

Blessings on your writing!