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The Story of a Father and His Son

Written by Pat ConroyAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Pat Conroy



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List Price: $11.99

eBook

On Sale: October 29, 2013
Pages: 352 | ISBN: 978-0-385-53085-9
Published by : Nan A. Talese Knopf

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Published by: Random House Audio

Read by Dick Hill
On Sale: October 29, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-307-98982-6
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Read by Dick Hill
On Sale: October 29, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-307-98983-3
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ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ABOUT THE AUTHOR
PRAISE PRAISE
READER'S GUIDE READER'S GUIDE
Synopsis

Synopsis

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.
 
Pat Conroy’s great success as a writer has always been intimately linked with the exploration of his family history. As the oldest of seven children who were dragged from military base to military base across the South, Pat bore witness to the often cruel and violent behavior of his father, Marine Corps fighter pilot Donald Patrick Conroy. While the publication of The Great Santini brought Pat much acclaim, the rift it caused brought even more attention, 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, the Santini unexpectedly refocused his ire to defend his son’s honor.
 
The Death of Santini is a heart-wrenching act of reckoning whose ultimate conclusion is that love can soften even the meanest of men, lending significance to the oft-quoted line from Pat’s novel The Prince of Tides: “In families there are no crimes beyond forgiveness.”
 
Praise for The Death of Santini
 
“A brilliant storyteller, a master of sarcasm, and a hallucinatory stylist whose obsession with the impress of the past on the present binds him to Southern literary tradition.”The Boston Globe
 
“A painful, lyrical, addictive read that [Pat Conroy’s] fans won’t want to miss.”People
 
“Conroy’s conviction pulls you fleetly through the book, as does the potency of his bond with his family, no matter their sins.”The New York Times Book Review
 
“Vital, large-hearted and often raucously funny.”The Washington Post
 
“Conroy writes athletically and beautifully, slicing through painful memories like a point guard splitting the defense.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
Pat Conroy

About Pat Conroy

Pat Conroy - The Death of Santini

Photo © SteveLeimberg/UnSeenImages.com

Pat Conroy is the bestselling author of nine books: The Boo, The Water is Wide, The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline, The Prince of Tides, Beach Music, My Losing Season, The Pat Conroy Cookbook: Recipes of My Life and South of Broad. He lives in Fripp Island, South Carolina.
Praise

Praise

“A brilliant storyteller, a master of sarcasm, and a hallucinatory stylist whose obsession with the impress of the past on the present binds him to Southern literary tradition.”The Boston Globe
 
“A painful, lyrical, addictive read that [Pat Conroy’s] fans won’t want to miss.”People
 
“Conroy’s conviction pulls you fleetly through the book, as does the potency of his bond with his family, no matter their sins.”The New York Times Book Review
 
“Vital, large-hearted and often raucously funny.”The Washington Post
 
“Conroy writes athletically and beautifully, slicing through painful memories like a point guard splitting the defense.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
Reader's Guide|Discussion Questions

About the Book

My dear friends and fellow lovers of Santini,

You have written so many letters of condolence since my father died that I’ve been overwhelmed at the task of answering them. But know this: All of them meant something, all of them moved me deeply, all were appreciated, and all were read. Don Conroy was larger than life and there was never a room he entered that he left without making his mark. At some point in his life, he passed from being merely memorable to being legendary.

In the thirty-three years he was in the Marine Corps, Colonel Conroy concentrated on the task of defending his country, and he did so exceedingly well. In the next twenty-four years left to him, he put all his efforts into the art of being a terrific father, a loving uncle, a brother of great substance, a beloved grandfather, and a friend to thousands. Out of uniform, the Colonel let his genius for humor flourish. Always in motion he made his rounds in Atlanta each day and no one besides himself knew how many stops he put in during a given day. He was like a bee going from flower to flower, pollinating his world with his generous gift for friendship.

Don Conroy was a man’s man, a soldier’s soldier, a Marine’s Marine. There was nothing soft or teddy-bearish about him. His simplicity was extraordinary. He died without ever owning a credit card, never took out a loan in his life, and almost all the furniture in his apartment was rented. I think he loved his family with his body and soul, yet no one ever lived who was less articulate in expressing that love. On the day the doctor told him that there was nothing more to be done for him, my father told me, “Don’t worry about it. I’ve had a great life. No one’s had a life like me. Everyone should be so lucky.”

Don Conroy died with exemplary courage, as one would expect.

He never complained about pain or whimpered or cried out. His death was stoical and quiet. He never quit fighting, never surrendered, and never gave up. He died like a king. He died like The Great Santini.

I thank you with all my heart.

Pat Conroy

Discussion Guides

1. Certain members of the Conroy clan viewed Pat’s writings as a betrayal of the family, exposing their dirty laundry to the public and tarnishing their reputation. Do you agree? How would you react if someone close to you novelized your life?

2. How do you think the real-life Conroys compare to their fictional counterparts in the Meecham family?

3. Conroy describes the lessons about love that he learned from his parents’ marriage in startlingly vivid terms, writing: “[Love] was a country bristling with fishhooks hung at eye level, man-traps, and poisoned baits. It could hurl toward you at breakneck speed or let you dangle over a web spun by a brown recluse spider” (pages 2–3). How do you evaluate this assessment of love and marriage? Do you think Conroy’s attitude shifts at all throughout the book? How did the example of his parents’ relationship influence his own marriages?

4. Conroy writes of his “high contempt” for literary critics, claiming that “no writer has suffered over morning coffee because of the savagery of my review of his or her latest book, and no one ever will” (page 46). How do you reconcile this attitude toward literary critics with the suffering his writing caused the members of his family? Do the two positions contradict each other, or are they compatible? Why?

5. In the Introduction to this book, Conroy claims that other writers often consider autobiographical fiction to be a low form of literature. What do you think of this claim?

6. Conroy writes “I don’t believe in happy families,” going on to explain that “A family is too frail a vessel to contain the risks of all the warring impulses expressed when such a group meets on common ground” (page 144). Do you agree with this claim? Is there such a thing as a happy family?

7. Conroy describes his mother as playing the part of Scarlett O’Hara throughout her life. What part does Conroy play? Do we all play a role different from who we really are? If so, what part do you play?

8. Conroy sometimes describes his parents and childhood in mythic terms, comparing his father to Thor and to Ares, the Greek god of war. Is it human nature to make myths of our childhoods and deify our parents? What myths exist in your family lore?

9. The Death of Santini explores the impact of Conroy’s Southern and Irish heritage on his upbringing. Discuss the importance of family heritage and ancestry in Conroy’s life and in your own.

10. Conroy eloquently writes that “Your birthplace is your destiny” (page 100). What do you think of this statement?

11. The Conroy children sometimes have very divergent perspectives on their shared childhood memories. What do you think of this phenomenon? Can you think of similar instances in your own life? Is it possible to avoid editorializing memories?

12. In a much-discussed scene from The Great Santini, Bull Meecham’s son chases his father around the Beauford green yelling “I love you!” Why do you think Bull/Dan runs away from this onslaught of affection?

13. Peg stuck with her marriage to Dan through some terrible times, yet the marriage could not survive the publication of The Great Santini. Why do you think that is?

14. In what ways did the filming of The Great Santini change Pat’s relationship with his father?

15. Conroy experiences the rare pleasure of watching his novel come to life on the silver screen. Who would play you in the movie of your life?


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