Pat Conroy's incisive descriptions go beyond regular perception. When I first read this passage, I marvelled at how Conroy is able to convey an impression with his sharply intuitive turn of phrase. The way he describes Winthrop Ogletree and his funeral parlour, utterly captures the essence and mood of the character and the setting. I no longer have to imagine. I'm right there in the room alongside Ogletree, as though my senses belonged to the POV character, Tom Wingo.
'The undertaker, Winthrop Ogletree, was waiting in the foyer of the large, rambling Victorian house at the end of the Street of Tides where he practiced his trade. He was dressed in a dark suit and his hands were folded against his stomach in an attitude of enforced piety. He was tall and thin and had a complexion like goat cheese left on the table too long. The funeral parlor smelled like dead flowers and unanswered prayers. When he wished us a good day, his voice was reptilian and unctuous and you knew he was only truly comfortable in the presence of the dead. He looked as if he had died two or three times himself in order to appreciate better the subtleties of his vocation. Winthrop Ogletree had the face of an unlucky vampire who never received an adequate portion of blood.'