Bull Meechem is a warrior's warrior without a war. He does not know function outside this milieu. His family cope with his inability to adapt, as they face off against a force of nature.
Pat Conroy writes about his characters with such understanding and warmth that even a tragic character like Bull Meechem is seen as redeemable.
I'm taking a break from this story 1/3 the way through because Bull/Santini is such an obnoxious, loud-mouthed character that I can barely stand to listen to it.
The hero of the story (so far) is Ben, Bull Meecham's teenage son, who has many redeeming qualities.
I believe that it was the authors intent that the title character should be this overbearing, bulldozing, testosterone driven loud-mouth of a man, so how can I fault the reader for being irritating? Though Dick Hill is far from my favorite reader, he has given adequate performances on other occsasions, so yes, I would.Perhaps he could have portrayed the man with a little less vigor? I found myself constantly adjusting the volume as Hill shifted from MAXIMUM VOLUME for Santini - to the soft-spoken wife, Lily or practically any other character.
...if I can bring myself to finish the audiobook, I will revise my review as needed.
I have greatly enjoyed the movies made from Conroy's works: (ie., Prince of Tides, Conrack...) so I don't dou bt that he is a worthwhile author. Thus I WANT to finish this one way or the other. "The other" though may be by reading the book oldstyle...
I had only seen the movie before and remembered being horrified by the scene where he throws the basketball at his son's head. Now that I'm older (much older!) I can actually identify with Santini and his struggle to be the best marine aviator and how that spills over into his family life. How he inspired his men to love him and want to go to war with him by his humor and tough love, yet made his son (and me) hate him. I appreciated how Conroy used Santini's wife to humanize his incomprehensible actions.
The actor who narrates the book is wonderful. He makes the voices so individual, that you don't need to be told who is speaking.
I just finished watching the 1979 movie adaptation of this book which I finished about two hours prior. Let's face it, 1970's-1980's cinema seldom plays well in 2012; however this movie did which is a complement to the screen writer of course. Let's face it, the real Bull Meecham in the book could never have been realistically portrayed by Robert Duvall or anyone else and survive studio scrutiny any more than anything in Conroy's Lords Of Discipline be portrayed at all in any form and survive. By the way, the screen play for Lords of Discipline was a total disaster, don't bother.
Just like Bull, The Great Santini is terribly flawed, imperfect, at times entirely disgusting and irredeemable; but you cannot help but love each and every character. This book has guts, heart and above all the ability to rise above it all and show love in a way few books can. Ben stole the show in the book, as did Michael O'Keefe in the movie. Lillian came in a close second in both, the actress superb. Without any hesitation, The Great Santini far exceeds Lords Of Disicipline in too many ways to mention and yet, in the end, I love them both.
Oh, I almost forgot, an Oscar performance for Dick HIll, genius reading, stunning!!
Stand By For A Fighter Pilot!
No. One of my favorite books, from one of my favorite authors. But simply suffers from the same issue that plagued the Lords of Discipline, but with a more severe affliction. The main character, Santini, is of course, loud and obnoxious. When you read the novel, you are aware of it, but you don't "feel" it. With this performance by Dick Hill, the experience is much more visceral. It is really annoying to have Santini yelling at you constantly through the first few chapters of the novel. It's not a horrible performance, but it is too over-the-top. He has no ups-and-downs. The listener never gets a break. You might think that the narrator and his mother would provide a sensitive, quiet reprieve, but they come off as wooden.I had to stop listening just to avoid a rise in my blood pressure.
Had previously read Conroy's "The Lords of Discipline" and really enjoyed it. "The Great Santini" was even better. Dick Hill's narration is top notch and really brings the story to life. Highly recommend the book.
I love Pat Conroy. His writing is right up there with the best of them. He tells a great story with great style. The Great Santini was his first published novel, and it is a great story, but not my favorite Pat Conroy novel. So much of it is indicative of the great Conroy novels to come, but I have to admit that I got a little bored and even irritated with the "boy" stuff - the coming-of-age rituals of the young boys and the we're-of-age rituals of the men who should know better. It was just too much for me. I understand that these fighter pilot types are pretty high strung and high on testosterone and need to goof around together in order to let off steam (my brother was a fighter pilot), but I just didn't enjoy reading about it. It seemed to drag on forever. I would also have liked to see Bull develop into a real human being in a more concrete way. In other words, He does change toward the end of the story, or I should say, his real metal is discovered, albeit too late, but I would have liked to see some hint of his humanness before then. I guess there are a lot of people who keep it well hidden the way Bull did, until they just can't hide it any more (my brother was one of those). I know of men who stay so aloof from their true feelings that they seem disconnected from reality until they lose everything. I think Bull was on the brink of losing everything. He follows a formula for living instead of really living. It is just hard to read about someone so unbending. That said, I love the characters in this story. Lillian and Maryann are fabulous, as well as Sammy and Toomer, and of course Ben. I even loved Bull's character, even though I am not sure I would have liked to know him personally, if it were even possible to know someone like that. He was a son-of-a- b____ for whom I am grateful that men like him do really exist and are willing to put everything on the line to protect my freedom.
Narrator Dick Hill's characterizations are just about as good as they get, and he had plenty of opportunity for a wide variety of them in this story. When he was reading Lillian, he made me believe he was this Southern steel magnolia. When he read Bull, I was scared to death of him. My one and only complaint about Dick Hill is that when he is just the narrator and not a character, he sounds really "Brooklyn" and reminds me of Howard Cosell. I would listen to him read another book in a heartbeat, though, Brooklyn or no Brooklyn.
Tell us about yourself!
yes and I have read severalof his
Mary Anne, the daughter who realized the dysfunction in the family and suffered the most from it
I disliked the parents so much---especially Lillian--I couldn't enjoy the well written book.
I came to this after listening to "The Lords Of Discipline." That was an AMAZING book. This is not.
The characters are strong, but aren't actually given enough to do -- the story has too many elements for a really clean, cohesive narrative structure, and there's a big problem with the book moving from one perspective to many towards the end. There's also pacing problems -- sometimes lots of time is spent on inconsequential things, whereas important things are rushed over.
This is a story about Military Famalies, like the one Pat Conroy grew up in. If you're part of a military family, I suspect you'll get a lot more out of this than I. From a truly outside perspective, I think the subject was perhaps too close to Conroy's life to create a jaw-dropping novel.
Dick Hill's performance is good, but somehow falls short of what it could have been. His voices sometimes fall into caricature instead of landing solidly as characters. There's a lot of great elements here but they don't gel completely. I almost wish Conroy had just written a memoir instead of a novel.
No, I did not enjoy it and didn't finish 'reading' it.It reads like a long, overly detailed character sketch about an unusual and not very likeable, character. But there's no real plot or development - quite unlike Conroy's later books which are wonderfully constructed and resonant with plots, surprises and characters who grow and develop.
Dick Hill's performance was great - it was all that saved the book and made me read on for some while.
Yes, I got impatient with the book and looked at the movie.I didn't enjoy it all that much but at least it told it's story in one sitting.