Charleston

Before You Go

Books

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South of Broad

Pat Conroy, 2010

Against the sumptuous backdrop of Charleston, South Carolina, South of Broad gathers a unique cast of sinners and saints. Leopold Bloom King, our narrator, is the son of an amiable, loving father who teaches science at the local high school. His mother, an ex-nun, is the high school principal and a well-known Joyce scholar. After Leo's older brother commits suicide at the age of thirteen, the family struggles with the shattering effects of his death, and Leo, lonely and isolated, searches for something to sustain him. Eventually, he finds his answer when he becomes part of a tightly knit group of high school seniors that includes friends Sheba and Trevor Poe, glamorous twins with an alcoholic mother and a prison-escapee father; hardscrabble mountain runaways Niles and Starla Whitehead; socialite Molly Huger and her boyfriend, Chadworth Rutledge X; and an ever-widening circle whose liaisons will ripple across two decades-from 1960s counterculture through the dawn of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s.

The ties among them endure for years, surviving marriages happy and troubled, unrequited loves and unspoken longings, hard-won successes and devastating breakdowns, and Charleston's dark legacy of racism and class divisions. But the final test of friendship that brings them to San Francisco is something no one is prepared for. South of Broad is Pat Conroy at his finest; a long-awaited work from a great American writer whose passion for life and language knows no bounds.

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Slaves in the Family

Edward Ball, 1998

The Ball family hails from South Carolina―Charleston and thereabouts. Their plantations were among the oldest and longest-standing plantations in the South. Between 1698 and 1865, close to four thousand black people were born into slavery under the Balls or were bought by them. In Slaves in the Family, Edward Ball recounts his efforts to track down and meet the descendants of his family's slaves. Part historical narrative, part oral history, part personal story of investigation and catharsis, Slaves in the Family is, in the words of Pat Conroy, "a work of breathtaking generosity and courage, a magnificent study of the complexity and strangeness and beauty of the word ‘family.'"

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The Invention of Wings

Sue Monk Kidd, 2015

Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.

As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.

Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.

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The Gold Bug

Edgar Allan Poe,1843

Set on Sullivan's Island, South Carolina, the plot follows William Legrand, who was recently bitten by a gold-colored bug. His servant Jupiter fears Legrand is going insane and goes to Legrand's friend, an unnamed narrator who agrees to visit his old friend. Legrand pulls the other two into an adventure after deciphering a secret message that will lead to a buried treasure.

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Porgy

Du Bose Heyward, 1925

This novel is the story of Porgy, a crippled street-beggar in the black tenement. Unwashed and unwanted, he lives just on the edge of subsistence and trusts his fate to the gods and chance. His one shining moment is his pursuit of Bess, whom he wins and then loses during one summer of passion and violence. The fictional characters of Porgy, Bess, Black Maria, Sportin' Life, and the other Gullah denizens of Catfish Row have attained a mythic status and have become inextricably identified with Charleston. This story by DuBose Heyward is, of course, the origin of George Gershwin's acclaimed folk opera Porgy and Bess.

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Edisto

Padgett Powell, 1984

Simons Everson Manigault ('You say it 'Simmons.' I'm a rare one-m Simons") lives with his mother, an eccentric professor (known as the Duchess), on an isolated and undeveloped strip of South Carolina coast. Convinced that her son can be a writer of genius, the Duchess has immersed Simons in the literary classics since birth ("Like some kids swat mobiles, I was to thumb pages") and has given him free rein to gather material in such spots as the Baby Grand, a local black nightclub. ("It was an assignment. I'm supposed to write. I'm supposed get good at it.")

Movies

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The Prince of Tides

Drama/Romance, 1991

Barbra Streisand directs and stars in this stunning screen adaptation of Pat Conroy's best-selling novel, in which Nick Nolte plays a disillusioned football coach who confronts his tortured childhoodin order to help his troubled sister. Streisand is the determined psychiatrist who battles his resentment and rage in search of the truth. Critically-acclaimed and deeply moving.

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The Notebook

Romance, 2004

Behind every great love is a great story. Two teenagers from opposite sides of the tracks fall in love during one summer together, but are tragically forced apart.

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Daughters of the Dust

Drama, 1991

At the dawn of the 20th Century, a multigenerational Gullah family prepares to leave the sea islands for the mainland. In conjunction with UCLA Film & Television Archive, Cohen Film Collection is proud to present a new restoration of director Julie Dash's groundbreaking film.

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Glory

Drama, 1989

Matthew Broderick and Denzel Washington star in this inspiring story of the first Black regiment tofight for the North in the Civil War.

Music

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