BOOKS: PAT CONROY: FIRST-PERSON PORTENTOUS

PAT CONROY WEIGHS IN ON CRAB DINNERS AND THE HOLOCAUST

Pat Conroy's new novel Beach Music (Doubleday; 628 pages; $27.50) jumps onto your lap like a large shaggy dog that will do anything to get your attention. It's friendly but still has teeth, like The Prince of Tides with its theme of family violence barely concealed in Southern blarney. Beach Music's Jack McCall has his own troublesome clan in South Carolina. His father the Judge is a brilliant drunk. Mom is a former striptease dancer, feisty cancer patient and savior of threatened loggerhead turtles. McCall's brothers include a hermit who lives in a tree house. Friends are also conspicuously memorable: a...

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