Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

The Beauty of the Words

Jackie K. Cooper

It was when I discovered the beauty of words that I became an avid reader. I don’t remember the time or place or even the book I was reading when it dawned on me how beautiful and powerful words could be, but for a long, long time now I have been aware of it.

When I am reading a book there are phrases that just leap out at me and I marvel at the author’s talent in putting these words together in such a harmonious way. Terry Kay is a master of doing this. I am reading his new book BOG MEADOW’S WISH and it is full of lyrical phrases that describe the characters and the Irish countryside.

I was reading it last night and had to stop periodically to savor the freshness of his descriptions and the pure luxury of his words. I envy him the great talent he has to do this. It enhances his story and adds to the overall enjoyment of his storytelling feat. I doubt he constructs these words per se but rather they just flow from him in a stream of talent.

Pat Conroy is another author who does this. I have often said I would read the phone book if Pat Conroy wrote it. I can get lost in his words and just float on his imagery. When I read THE PRINCE OF TIDES I was transported to Conroy land. The same is true with BEACH MUSIC and THE LORDS OF DISCIPLINE. He lives in a world of beautiful phrasing and we mortals can only visit there through his works.

I also get rapturous over the words Michael Connelly writes in his mysteries. Whether his main character is Mickey Haller or Harry Bosch, his words still have a plaintive sigh to them as he conjures up the weariness in their souls. There is a melancholia that permeates Connelly’s best works and I love to lose myself in that feeling.

There are many, many other writers who strike a nerve in my soul, but it is Kay, Conroy and Connelly who do it best. I admire each of these three men and look forward to the next work from each of them. Connelly is the more prolific of these writers so I get to savor him more often than Kay or Conroy.

Sometimes when I am writing, I get overcome by the story I am telling and lose track of the typing. I will look down at the screen of my computer and find words there that I don’t recall. That is usually when my writing is at its best. The problem is this “occurrence” only happens infrequently. Somehow I imagine it happens to Kay, Conroy and Connelly most of the time.

This is just a reminder to stop and smell the roses as you read. Find those words and phrases that transport you to another time and place. You will find your life will be richer for having made these discoveries. At least that is what I have found.


Jackie K. Cooper was born in South Carolina and now lives in Georgia. His short stories have been used as commentary on Georgia Public Radio. He also keeps active appearing as an after dinner speaker for various events. Cooper has authored six books: Journey of a Gentle Southern Man, Chances and Choices, Halfway Home, The Bookbinder, The Sunrise Remembers, and Back to the Garden: The Goal of the Journey.

Visit his website, or email Jackie.

© Jackie K. Cooper

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012