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."
“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)
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Conroy at his best
I haven't read the print version, so I can't compare, but the audio version was excellent. The dialogue between the family members was extremely well performed by Dick Hill and at times, I laughed out loud.
The conversations between the parents and the siblings were at times funny and at times shocking, but always entertaining.
Its the first book of Hill's that I have listened to, but I don't think it will be the last. Pat Conroy read the preface only, and at first I was disappointed he didn't read the book.Now I see why he didn't. There was a wonderful variety of "voices" that only a professional like Dick Hill could have delivered with such perfection. Many times I totally forgot that Pat Conroy was not reading, because Hill did such a wonderful job capturing the sarcasm, bitterness, pain and love in the voices.
Yes. Every free minute, I was plugged in and was sorry when it was over.
Its an amazing testimony to the power of forgiveness and love that Don Conroy was loved and mourned by so many people. It was also interesting, though not surprising to learn that Pat Conroy was similar to his father in many ways, minus the physical abuse to his loved ones. It was a fascinating followup to The Great Santini.
- Linda R.
Brutal Narration - couldn't finish
Both the prologue and the book's narrators were remedial at best. Surprised at Pat Conroy's stumbled prologue delivery. Dick Hill was brutal. Reminded me of a third grader reciting the adventures of Dick, Jane and Sally. Too bad. It was disappointing as I was eager to hear Pat Conroy's newest book. Plan to read it as soon as I can erase Dick Hill's voice from my memory.
Selected Will Patten to read it - including the prologue.