Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Death of Santini

About This Book:  In this powerful and intimate memoir, the beloved bestselling 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 bestselling novel The Prince of Tides: “In families there are no crimes beyond forgiveness.”
About The Author:  Pat Conroy, born in Atlanta in 1945, was the first of seven children of a young career military officer from Chicago and a Southern beauty from Alabama, to whom Pat often credits for his love of language. The Conroys moved frequently to military bases throughout the South, with Conroy eventually attending The Citadel Military Academy in Charleston, South Carolina, where, as a student, he published his first book, The Boo, a tribute to a beloved teacher. Following graduation, Conroy taught English in Beaufort, where he met and married a young mother of two children who had been widowed during the Vietnam War. He soon took a job teaching underprivileged children in a one-room schoolhouse on Daufuskie Island off the South Carolina shore but, after a year, was fired for his unconventional teaching practices – such as his refusal to allow corporal punishment of his students – and for his personal differences with the school's administration. Conroy was never to teach again but he evened the score by exposing the racism and appalling conditions his students endured with the publication of a memoir, The Water is Wide published in 1972. The book won Conroy a humanitarian award from the National Education Association and was made into the feature film Conrack.  Following the birth of a daughter, the Conroys moved to Atlanta, where Pat wrote his novel, The Great Santini, published in 1976, and later made into a film starring Robert Duvall, that explored the conflicts of the author's childhood, particularly his ambivalent love for his violent and abusive father. The publication of a book that so painfully exposed his family's secret brought Conroy a period of tremendous personal desolation. This crisis resulted not only in his divorce, but the divorce of his parents; his mother presented a copy of The Great Santini to the judge as "evidence" in divorce proceedings against his father. The Citadel became the subject of his next novel, The Lords of Discipline, published in 1980. The novel exposed the school's harsh military discipline and racism. Conroy remarried and moved from Atlanta to Rome, where he began The Prince of Tides, which, when published in 1986, became his most successful book. Reviewers immediately acknowledged Conroy as a master storyteller and a poetic and gifted prose stylist. This novel has become one of the most beloved novels of modern time. With over five million copies in print, it has earned Conroy an international reputation. The Prince of Tides was later made into a highly successful feature film directed by and starring Barbra Streisand, as well as actor Nick Nolte, whose performance won him an Oscar nomination. Beach Music (1995), Conroy's sixth book, was the story of Jack McCall, an American who moves to Rome to escape the trauma and painful memory of his young wife's suicidal leap off a bridge in South Carolina. While he was on tour for Beach Music, members of his Citadel basketball team began appearing, one by one, at his book signings around the country, Conroy realized that his team members had come back into his life just when he needed them most. He began reconstructing his senior year, his last year as an athlete, and the 21 basketball games that changed his life. The result of these recollections, along with his insights into his early aspirations as a writer, became My Losing Season. Conroy's fifth novel and ninth book, South of Broad offers readers a love letter to the city of Charleston. It also presents a Conroy first: a totally lovable father in the character of Leo Bloom King, the story's central figure.  He followed the novel with The Pat Conroy Cookbook. His next book, My Reading Life, published in 2010, is a celebration of reading and the books that most influenced him. In his next book, The Death of Santini, a memoir scheduled to be published on October 30, 2013, Conroy revisits one last time his tortured family, where he describes his father's surprising evolution into a father he could finally love.Conroy currently lives in Beaufort, South Carolina with his wife, novelist Cassandra King.
My Thoughts About This Book:  I first fell in love with Pat my first year of teaching.  My boss gave us all a copy of The River Is Wide.  I was only one of a handfull of faculty members that appreciated the gift.  It was one of the greatest gifts I had ever received.  From the moment I completed the book I had an insatible fascination with the Low Country and could not read enough of his books.  I felt with each one that I was living in the Low Country and experiencing everything he did.  I wanted to quit my job once and move to Charleston and teach gulla children. I selected the Great Santini and then The Lords of Discipline as my next two reads and I was hooked on Pat Conroy. He is a master wordsmith and truly knows how to touch the emotions of his readers. While I read the story I felt as if I was part of this.  These were my people, this was my life,  this was family.  I have taught Conroy in my English 11 class.  I alternate between Lords of Discipline, The River is Wide, and The Great Santini. Most of my students get hooked on Pat Conroy immediately and even some of my non-readers cannot wait to get their hands on his other books.  I found in reading The Death of Santini that I was being seduced, angry as rip, frustrated, challenged, and before I knew it the story had permeated my very being. I cried because of the cycles of life and rejoiced in the victories we gain in life.  This story is amazing.  I think everyone should grab a copy and take a journey into the depths of his family, madness, love, and commitment, in an effort to be reminded of all the important things that matter in life.  I promise you that the journey is worth the effort and you will never forget it.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book from Revell, Litfuse Publicity Group, and Net I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.* Thanks guys for allowing me to review this book.


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