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It was growing dark on this long southern evening

8 August 2012

In the Beautiful Writing Category:

It was growing dark on this long southern evening, and suddenly, at the exact point her finger had indicated, the moon lifted a forehead of stunning gold above the horizon, lifted straight out of filigreed, light-intoxicated clouds that lay on the skyline in attendant veils.

Behind us, the sun was setting in a simultaneous congruent withdrawal and the river turned to flame in a quiet duel of gold….The new gold of moon astonishing and ascendant, the depleted gold of sunset extinguishing itself in the long westward slide, it was the old dance of days in the Carolina marshes, the breathtaking death of days before the eyes of children, until the sun vanished, its final signature a ribbon of bullion strung across the tops of water oaks.

Pat Conroy, The Prince of Tides

Thanks to Rhonda for the tip.

Beautiful Writing

9 Comments to “It was growing dark on this long southern evening”

  1. What I’m finding interesting is that the paragraphs that are “beautiful” writing are description, rather than action or dialogue. In these days when writers are encouraged to “not waste time” on too much description, but get right to the action, will “beautiful writing” like this become a lost art, or something reserved only for literary novels?

  2. Yes! Prince of Tides was the first book that popped to mind when I read PG was starting a beautiful writing series. Thanks, Rhonda, for following through much better than I did.

  3. P.G.

    Oh dear….I am not in that camp, at all.

    Simultaneous congruent withdrawal?

    Not fer me.

    I have many times considered a purchase of, “Prince of Tides,” at Audible. The reviewers rave about it.

    Sounds like Mogadon and Morpheus musing together.

    Sorry, no wish to offend, if it works for you, fine well!

    I’m going to put up a little piece of Ed McBain in the next few days. You can all have a pop at my pretensions in that:)

    brendan

    • Not everyone agrees on what beautiful writing is, Brendan.

      As you know, I’ve had a lot of Raymond Chandler excerpts as quotes in the past and will look forward to Ed McBain.

    • I like that idea, Brendan! And too bad I left all my John D. MacDonald at the vacation house. Looking forward to McBain. And oh, I do love me some Chandler!

      • I always loved John D. MacDonald’s intro to Stephen King’s “Night Shift”:

        I am often given the big smiling handshake at parties (which I avoid attending whenever possible) by someone who then, with an air of gleeful conspiracy, will say, “You know, I always wanted to write.”

        I used to try to be polite.

        These days I reply, with the same jubilant excitement: “You know, I’ve always wanted to be a brain surgeon.”

        They look puzzled. It doesn’t matter. There are a lot of puzzled people wandering around lately.

        If you want to write, you write.

        The only way to learn to write is by writing. And that would not be a useful approach to brain surgery.

  4. Not arguing with those who disagree, but to me, this is gorgeous. Thanks, PG and Rhonda.

  5. Better than that Waller piece, by a long shot, but doesn’t motivate me to read the book. If this is what is considered “beautiful” writing, then there isn’t a lot of “beauty” in Jim Thompson’s stuff, but I’d take him over Pat Conroy any day of the week. Personal preference; YMMV.

  6. AArrghh! This quotation TOTALLY misses the point of the poaragraph — the real beauty of it, which happens to come in a line of dialogue. The Wingo kids’ mother has taken them down to the dock to see this lovely moment and when it’s over Savannah says “Oh, Mama! Do it again!.”

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