“To describe our growing up in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, I would have to take you to the marsh on a spring day, flush the great blue heron from its silent occupation, scatter marsh hens as we sink to our knees in mud, open you an oyster with a pocketknife and feed it to you from the shell and say, “There. That taste. That’s the taste of my childhood.” I would say, “Breathe deeply,” and you would breathe and remember that smell for the rest of your life.” ~ From The Prince of Tides
“The charming Lowcountry port of Beaufort, South Carolina, is one of those sleepy southern hamlets, like Oxford, Mississippi, or Monroeville, Alabama, which has inspired more than its share of modern American novels. The picturesque coastal hamlet’s role as literary muse is easy to explain, thanks to its unequivocal beauty, which is found in every corner, from the antebellum mansions to the oak-hung cemeteries; the sunlit tidal marsh, to that old southern scene-stealer, the century oak draped in moss. If you’ve ever met an artist, in letters or watercolor or charcoal, you’ll understand that beauty in all its manifestations is a great motivator—and that the novel, at its best, is the distillation of a thousand stories from every walk of life and every prism of light.
The truth is that Beaufort, with its long history stretching back to colonial forts and Indian wars, has always entertained a lively dance of human interaction and a fusion of cultures: native and European, Old South, New South, black, white, transplant and tourist. It’s a crossroads community where the crew-cut severity of the modern soldier meets the languor and delicate duplicity of the small-town, radically divided Dixie.
Is it any wonder that such a culturally fecund slice of earth has sustained the career of so many writers, the most famous, by far, beloved adopted son Pat Conroy? Pat’s love affair with the Lowcountry is so thoroughly and dramatically conveyed in his writing that it might be described less as passion and more in the realm of well-aimed obsession.”
~Janis Owens, from her foreword to Famous all over Town: A Novel by Bernie Schein, published by Story River Books of USC Press, reprinted with publisher permission.