Somehow I missed this in my reading of Pat Conroy's books in years past, and somehow I missed the BEST of all of his works. This is a fabulous story written elegantly, passionately and so beautifully that it makes me realize the failings of other authors whose works I have previously thought were entertaining. I now feel that entertainment is not enough!! I am IN LOVE with this book and with Pat Conroy's talent and skillful artistry. THANK YOU, Pat, from the bottom of my heart, for all you and your compatriots endured to deliver this masterpiece to the world. I also want to thank the narrator for his unique ability to provide the emotional context that gives realism, heart and soul to this true nightmare.
One of the things I like about Pat Conroy's story telling is you fall in love with his characters - even if you don't like them. When the story is over, you feel an emptyness, a longing to have them back in your life again. My favorite Conroy book in that respect is Prince of Tides (the book, not the movie). I couldn't stop listening even when I was so tired I should have been asleep. Lords of Discipline is the same - a compelling tale, especially when you realize that at least parts of it are autobiographical. I went to university at UC Berkeley during the same time frame that the Lords were attending "The Institute" - an amazing contrast in life choices.
This is a new favorite. I will listen to it over and over again. An amazing coming of age story about the bonds between boys growing into men. I couldn't stop listening for a moment. It can be cruel, sometimes a little crass and vulgar, as college boys (military academy or not) are wont to be, but that is secondary and only serves to make it more authentic. It is about the building of character, facing hardship and overcoming it, its about the struggle for integrity. l fell in love with the characters. The story line moves along quickly, there are no wasted moments. It is alternately funny and heartbreaking. I couldn't wait to clean the house so I could hear what happens next.
I know that this book is the foundation for most of Conroy's story telling, but I have to say, that perhaps because of his immaturity in his writing career at that time, it is poorly edited and a bit self-inflated.
The descriptions of some of the initiations of the military school were so repetitive, so boring, that after a while, one did not experience the horror any longer. The plight of the African American kid could have been so much more deeply mined but he was just another among the ranks.
Pat Conroy is one of my favorite contemporary writers, but I find one thing I consistently dislike in his stories. He (the protagonist) is ALWAYS better than everyone else in the book. He is NOT a racist, he will NOT participate in the torture of plebes, he is smarter than everyone in school, he is the most well liked and the most morally tortured of all the boys.
There is a psychological aspect to this consistency, I believe. I think that we write so that life is as we wish it were. I think we write to show how things could've should've been. But all of Conroy's protagonists take the high road about 90% of the time, which means either 1) that to align ourselves with the protagonist we are condescending to the other, less morally straightlaced than we are or) that Conroy is rewriting his personal history and portraying a character he wishes he had been. I am not indicting Conroy for any of this, not accusing him or being judgmental. I am trying, as a reader, to understand where he wants me to end up when the story is done.
Pat Conroy is a treasure, a tremendous and emotional writer. I should do so well myself. I am trying to understand where his dreams come from and how he translates his own history into his characters.
On the other hand, how do we know which of his characters a writer is using to portray himself... maybe it's not the protagonist who represents the writer. Maybe it's the monsters that appear in all the others.
Just thinkin' aloud.
Interesting and moving from beginning to end -- the end in particular is one of the most captivating that I've heard on audible. I was unable to turn the last two hours off! Excellent narration, particularly good performance characterizing "The Bear." Worth your credit absolutely.
I love Pat Conroy, really enjoyed The Great Santini and read the Prince of Tides years ago, but I think I liked this better than both of them. The story is captivating. It will make you laugh as all Conroy's books do with his witty dialogue, but it will also break your heart. The reader is excellent, one of the best I have listened to.
I can recommend this book based on both its literary content and the excellent narration. From a literary standpoint, Conroy's ability to set the hook of his reader is owed to strong character development and an unbroken story line that does not allow the reader to quit until all is finished. The story is an open vivisection of the ritualistic and brutal plebe system at an iconic Southern military institute which, although not specifically identified as such, is based on Conroy's own experience as a cadet at the Citadel. As for the narration, Dan John Miller made each character believable and unique, whether male or female. I'll look for other books narrated by him....
The narration made this listen perfect. I could not stop listening. Excellent story I found myself wondering of all the pledging that goes on even today and wonder of the point of it all. I felt I was taken into the walls of the Institute and think I fell in love with Will and all that he stood for. Wonderful Charleston descriptions. For me this is what audible books is about.
A Book and a Cat: Nothing more
Pat Conroy, one of the finest authors of our generation, has written an unforgettable narrative of endurance, agony, and achievement of manhood. Other reviewers have already stated the strengths of the work.
I will dissent from most of the others in one category: the narrator develops fabulous and fitting voices for each of the characters, but oh, how his frequent mispronunciations grated on me. Not to be able to pronounce words such as implacable, impudent, mahogany, stolid, indefatigable and others seems inexcusable in a narrator. Except for that one factor, this audiobook would have had a solid 5 stars.
Pat Conroy is simply one of the greatest storytellers I have ever listened to. He is able to make you feel every emotion his characters are feeling. You celebrate their victories, mourn their losses and miss them when the book is complete.