Pat Conroy named editor-at-large for new USC Press fiction series

Best-selling author Pat Conroy will become editor-at-large for a new fiction series offered by the University of South Carolina Press — a series Conroy says just might prevent the demise of the Great American Novel and help repay the debt he owes to the state that has made him famous for fiction-writing.

The first book in the new Story River Books series won’t appear until 2014, but Conroy was so excited by the “seductive powers” of the series that he volunteered his name and his services during a recent lunch with press director Jonathan Haupt.

It came as a happy coincidence that Haupt had named the nascent series after a river Conroy went swimming in as a kid, he says. That river ran along Fripp Island. Today, Conroy lives in Beaufort.

“We could start something that could maybe become a center . . . for terrific stories that can’t get heard in any other way,” says Conroy, 67. “This is going to be one of those (efforts) that saves the novel in this country.

“(That) they’re doing fiction at the USC Press seems amazing to me, and wonderful.”

University, or “academic,” presses usually are known for nonfiction, often histories. Story River Books will publish fiction with universal appeal but rooted in South Carolina, including novels and short-story collections.

Conroy frequently cites his love of South Carolina people and geography for the success of his rich prose.

“Literature can choose anywhere it wants to be born,” he says, “anywhere the sting and loveliness of language goes to dwell.

“I want Story River Books to find and nurture those voices, and for writers young and old in this infinitely variable state to be recognized and heard. , . . . Stories matter in a state like South Carolina . . .”

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Pat Conroy will appear at the South Carolina Book Festival May 18. Visit the festival website for details.

Via: The State