good read: south of broad

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Last year, I read Prince of Tides* by Pat Conroy while on a cruise (here's the link to the review I posted).  I can't remember what compelled me to read it, but I really liked it even though it was extremely depressing (massively dysfunctional family).

While I was at the used bookstore a month or two ago, I was perusing their selection of $3.99 books, and I picked up South of Broad*.  The blurb on the back sounded good enough, I had liked my previous selection by the same author, and you definitely can't beat $3.99!  

Long story short, I liked it more than Prince of Tides.  It was overall pretty dark, but there was a lot of humor, and of course excellent writing.  

I knew I would like this book from the very beginning.  One of the best passages in the whole book occurs three paragraphs into the first chapter.

But fate comes at you cat-footed, unavoidable, and bloodthirsty. The moment you are born your death is foretold by your newly minted cells as your mother holds you up, then hands you to your father, who gently tickles the stomach where the cancer will one day form, studies the eyes where melanoma's dark signature is already written along the optic nerve, touches the back where the liver will one day house the cirrhosis, feels the bloodstream that will sweeten itself into diabetes, admires the shape of the head where the brain will fall to the ax-handle of stroke, or listens to your heart, which, exhausted by the fearful ways and humiliations and indecencies of life, will explode in your chest like a light going out in the world.  Death lives in each one of us and begins its countdown on our birthdays and makes its rough entrance at the last hour and the perfect time. 

Not particularly bright and cheery, but good writing that made me want to know how the story was going to end!

Many of the reviews say that this is not one of his better books.  They said the dialogue was "stilted" and the characters were cardboard and unrealistic.  I disagree and I loved this book!