I had a wonderful day today doing a book signing at Waterfront Books in Historic Georgetown, S.C. for my new release, Two Drifters. Afterwards, I met with a book club who had already read Two Drifters for a discussion and a question and answer session. It was a very stimulating evening with a lively give and take. I wanted to share some of the provocative questions that were asked.

1. Which Southern Book Do You Wish You Had Written?

I imagine that my answer may be the most expected response to this query. However, that only underscores how wonderful and influential a book it is. I also argue with the assignment as a Southern novel. In my opinion, the Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy is far more than a Southern novel, it is one of the greatest American novels ever written. To be fair, I believe that the Prince of Tides combines all the best elements of Southern fiction. Beyond the beautiful, evocative writing typical of Conroy, the Prince of Tides contains the passionate intensity of damaging family secrets, meta-physical evil and the classic Southern willingness to fight for a hopeless cause. As in all his books, Conroy populates his novels with heroic, but flawed men, and Southern Steel Magnolias who survive by their wits, and at all costs. These are the characters that I find myself writing about as well, in Lowcountry settings I wish I could describe as beautifully as Pat Conroy.

2. If You Could Invite 3 Authors To Dinner, Who Would You Invite And What Would You Serve?

What an incredible evening this would be. My guests would be Pat Conroy (as you might have guessed from my answer to the previous question), James Lee Burke, and Hunter S. Thompson just in case the conversation might lag.

The evening would start with drinks and appetizers. For drinks, I would offer a Grapefruit Shrub (2 whole grapefruits; 3/4 cup of Turbinado sugar; and 3/4 cup of champagne vinegar) either as is, or with the option of 10 Cane Rhum or Brandy to add for punch. I believe everyone at the table was able to take a punch. Grapefruit because Hunter S.Thompson was obsessed with them and would typically consume a dozen or more each day. The appetizer will be Marjorie’s Stuffed Mushrooms (cream cheese and Parmesan then broiled). Marjorie was my mother and these were my favorite.

Dinner will start with Iced Fruit Tea (lemon and orange slices with strawberries and red grapefruit wedges instead of pineapple) and an Iceberg Wedge salad with heirloom tomatoes, smoked applewood bacon with Harry’s Roquefort Dressing. Both of these recipe’s come from The Pat Conroy Cookbook:Recipes of My Life. Harry’s Roquefort Dressing is dedicated to Harry Chakides who was a Citadel man and owned Harry’s Restaurant on Bay Street in Beaufort. It will knock your socks off.

The main course will be Louisiana crayfish and penne pasta with a Tasso ham cream sauce. The main course is an homage to James Lee Burke and his alter-ego protagonist Sheriff Dave Robicheaux from New Iberia Parish in Louisiana.

Dessert will start with Cafe du Monde coffee served with hot, just out of the fryer, beignets with heavy powdered sugar. We’ll let Hunter S. Thompson decide on the after dinner aperitif.

In the words of Hunter S. Thompson, “that’s when things really started to get weird.”

3. What Books Are Currently On My Bedside Table?

There are three and they’re a pretty interesting collection. One that reminds of how hard it is to become either a good or successful writer. One that gives me hope that great success might not be that far away. And one by a friend that reminds me where I’m from, when I’m from and how I’m from. A wild and secluded Lowcountry barrier island where young boys, almost young men, pursue adolescent adventure, come of age and experience pain for the first time in their undefeated hearts.

The three books are:

Go Set A Watchman
by Harper Lee
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
The Mullet Manifesto by Roger Pinckney

I’d recommend any of them.

A little harder than usual to find the perfect Springsteen song to illustrate my blog. You probably know that last week was the 41st anniversary of the release of Born to Run. However, I covered that album in my previous blog. Actually, the Springsteen album that reminds me most of Southern literature is Darkness on the Edge of Town and I will add the title track about a guy whose life has been pulled apart but has no interest in giving up. The character in the song could have been brother Luke from Prince of Tides.
Springsteen and the E Street Band at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 1995 playing Darkness. https://youtu.be/VP7DCXIrY2E
Will have to copy and paste into your browser. Would not let me embed.Sorry

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