barbaroma40, December 27, 2013 (view all comments by barbaroma40)
Have read all of Pat Conroy's previous books, let me tell you this book outbeats them all!!! Conroy seems to be even more relaxed in his writing, really bringing every topic of the family up front - parents, grandparents, cousins, kids, you name it. Most definitely worth buying and reading.
The Lost Entwife, November 9, 2013 (view all comments by The Lost Entwife)
It was interesting timing, because I picked up The Death of Santini by Pat Conroy immediately after reading Ann Patchett's newest memoir. The difference could not have been more night and day. Pat Conroy does not pull punches, laying bare the very foundations of his childhood in a brutal way that manages to keep the self-pity at a minimum and, instead, tells a story of learning to live with the hand life deals you and moving forward to become a better person.
Filled to the brim with stories about his father, nicknamed The Great Santini due to his time as a fighter pilot for the Marines, Conroy lays out a somewhat chronological, and a bit repetitive as a result, story that shows the great strides his father took to mend, in his own way, his relationship with his children. Conroy speaks openly about the conflicted relationship he had with his father as an adult, the way his father was proud of him - even though much of Conroy's success was built on how his father and mother raised him and his siblings, and also Conroy's relationship with his siblings. In one heart-breaking chapter he talks about his younger brother Tom and the events leading up to his suicide. In another, he speaks about his sister, Carol Ann, and the tumultuous relationship they have had. What impressed me most was that while it was obvious there were issues in his relationships with those siblings, Conroy is also quick to point out their strengths and talents - not to make an excuse for what has been going on, but rather to show that there are other sides to them.
What I learned while reading through The Death of Santini, most importantly, was just how lucky I was to have a kind father. When you grow up in a household where the biggest conflict is a fight (verbal) between parents, as a child you may think that life sucks but out there, maybe even down the street, there's a child growing up like Pat did, who is not only abused physically himself, but subject to seeing the abuse heaped on his other parent as well. At one point, Pat even mentioned that he looked forward to his father going away - a concept I cannot even wrap my head around.
This is not a memoir to read for happy, fuzzy feelings about the father-son relationship. Pat's relationship with his father is complex and filled with pain. It's an interesting story and there is no doubt that Pat is a masterful storyteller, but it's best to take in small doses. I read it quickly and at the end felt so much despair it was hard to shake myself out of the funk it put me in. But then again, most of Conroy's books do that to me so I should have expected it.
If you are interested in Conroy's books (or even the movies) and the inspiration that caused them to be written, I'd recommend this memoir. It will give a good look at the circumstances surrounding not only the writing of the books, but also what was happening as they were produced into movies and as Pat went on his book tours.
The Death of Santini: The Story of a Father and His Son
0 stars -
Nan A. Talese -
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"Making amends is on Conroy's mind in his 11th book. Over the years unflattering versions of his parents and siblings have popped up in books like The Great Santini and Prince of Tides. Here fiction meets reality in scenes of his mother going after his abusive father with a knife, constant verbal onslaughts from all directions, and mental breakdowns of several family members. That his siblings discount some of his claims is tossed aside as selective memory on their parts. Conroy has a job to do, that of mythologizing the clan for all time. His mother becomes Lady Macbeth and his father a noble ex-Marine who says his son lies about the family while also going on book tours and giving interviews on CNN. While the intent may have been to paint a more honest picture of his parents, Conroy only shows himself to be insecure about the legacy of his books. He connects jealousy over his writing to the death of his brother Tom Conroy and to the madness of his sister Carol Ann Conroy. These connections seem mostly in his head and are rendered in histrionic sappy prose. In the end his picture of the Conroy clan is one of deeply flawed people convinced the world is against them, those aspects are fetishized to an operatic level. But as Conroy points out many times in the book, this could all be in his head. Agent: Marly Rusoff, Marly Rusoff Literary Agency. (Nov.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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