In this powerful and intimate memoir, the beloved best-selling author of The Prince of Tides and his father, the inspiration for The Great Santini, find some common ground at long last.
Pat Conroy's father, Donald Patrick Conroy, was a towering figure in his son's life. The Marine Corps fighter pilot was often brutal, cruel, and violent; as Pat says, "I hated my father long before I knew there was an English word for 'hate.'" As the oldest of seven children who were dragged from military base to military base across the South, Pat bore witness to the toll his father's behavior took on his siblings, and especially on his mother, Peg. She was Pat's lifeline to a better world - that of books and culture. But eventually, despite repeated confrontations with his father, Pat managed to claw his way toward a life he could have only imagined as a child.
Pat's great success as a writer has always been intimately linked with the exploration of his family history. While the publication of The Great Santini brought Pat much acclaim, the rift it caused with his father brought even more attention. Their long-simmering conflict burst into the open, fracturing an already battered family. But as Pat tenderly chronicles here, even the oldest of wounds can heal. In the final years of Don Conroy's life, he and his son reached a rapprochement of sorts. Quite unexpectedly, the Santini who had freely doled out physical abuse to his wife and children refocused his ire on those who had turned on Pat over the years. He defended his son's honor.
The Death of Santini is at once a heart-wrenching account of personal and family struggle and a poignant lesson in how the ties of blood can both strangle and offer succor. It is an act of reckoning, an exorcism of demons, but one whose ultimate conclusion is that love can soften even the meanest of men, lending significance to one of the most-often quoted lines from Pat's best-selling novel The Prince of Tides: "In families there are no crimes beyond forgiveness."
©2013 Pat Conroy (P)2013 Random House Audio
“Listeners will be moved as they listen to Conroy's latest memoir…The humorous and gut wrenching prologue, read by Conroy himself, transitions perfectly to Dick Hill's delivery of the soul-searching memoir. Hill inhabits all the Conroy family members well, but his shifts between father and son…is where the story soars.” (AudioFile)
"Despite the inherently bleak nature of so much of this material, Conroy has fashioned a memoir that is vital, large-hearted and often raucously funny. The result is an act of hard-won forgiveness, a deeply considered meditation on the impossibly complex nature of families and a valuable contribution to the literature of fathers and sons." (The Washington Post)
"The Death of Santini instantly reminded me of the decadent pleasures of [Conroy's] language, of his promiscuous gift for metaphor and of his ability, in the finest passages of his fiction, to make the love, hurt or terror a protagonist feels seem to be the only emotion the world could possibly have room for, the rightful center of the trembling universe. . . . Conroy’s conviction pulls you fleetly through the book, as does the potency of his bond with his family, no matter their sins, their discord, their shortcomings.” (The New York Times Book Review)
Definitely would not read any non-fiction from Pat Conroy again.
Pat Conroy comes off as an insufferable, chauvinistic, narcissist. I found his fiction (Prince of Tides, Great Santini, South of Broad, Lords of Discipline) entertaining but this book was awful. I couldn't finish it--only got halfway through--it was too boring.
Anyone who has read most of Conroy's books has to read this one because his father loomed large over virtually all of his work and everyone wants to know how it ends. However, I would not suggest that someone not into Conroy buy the book. It really doesn't have the strength to stand alone.
Dick Hill is a decent reader, but no one can read a Conroy book like Conroy.
As to whether there should be a followup book, there can't be - as Conroy died recently, and from a reader's standpoint, his collection is complete. I enjoyed all of his books except Beach Music, which to me is a sore thumb. After reading it I felt like finding his editor to shake him senseless.
Pat Conroy shouldn't be underrated. He was an excellent writer who wrote for all the right reasons. He was a true Southern writer in the same way Steinbeck was a Western writer - he made the land, sea and marshes come alive. We miss him.
Pat Conroy ' s books are wonderful but can also be hard to listen too if there's any kind of abuse in your life past or present..I would suggest reading this book last..I just loved the Water is Wide and South of Broad and of course Prince of Tides.
Yes . Conroy's writing is so artful and his meaning so common. As a great admirer of all his books, I believe this is a book that is continuing his life as his reader's are able to watch.
I don't have a favorite. To me, they all are part of the bigger piece.
This book appeals to people on so many levels, just as Mr. Conroy's past works have. If the reader has had a childhood or family relationships with these powerful struggles, the reader feels it in her heart and gut. If a reader was blessed to believe to never have these dramas, (which I would question of anyone with a "perfect" life), Conroy's work is a window into others as well. Beautiful words create a whirlwind of emotions.
It is hard to find good things to say about the work of an author I usually enjoy. This narrator is so bad I cannot go on with the book. I will remove it from my phone and check out the book from the library.
He reads sentences as if he doesn't understand how English sentences work. Commas mean little to him and he emphasizes a word just before or just after the word he ought to have emphasized.
Bravo Pat. So many things resonated with me and my children whose own father a West Pointer loved his children through their mother. Emotionally distant and a raging alcoholic after retiring.
I will send the book to all my children. One injured Marine and one Air Force officer, your kindred spirits. Your courage to write this book will let them know they are not alone.
The biggest aha moment for me was the chapter about Santinis missions to kill as a fighter pilot and then come home to vulnerable children.
It must be confusing for warriors to navigate worlds and the families pay the price. And then to honor these warriors as heroes. My wounded warrior son says don't thank me and don't call me a hero.
War is sick. Thank you for allowing us to have a glimpse of life for those of us who have loved the Warriors
The book was seriously in need of a good editor. Too long, too repetitious, and much too self-important.
Someone who could read faster, and not get bogged down in the descriptive passages. HIs characterization of Conroy's father was the best voice he used, but in general he reads haltingly, in a way that quickly becomes irritating.
Anyone who makes his entire career out of rewriting family (or personal) history, however thinly disguised, is asking that we look at him over and over. Two of Conroy's books succeeded for me, though I've never liked his over-the-top writing style. (Movie versions have been more successful, in general). But with this book I think he's become little more than a self-aggrandizing victim. I tired of the book in the first two hours, and while I stayed to the end, I thought much of it was padded.
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