Tribute: Pat Conroy

Posted on March 5, 2016 at 1:07 pm

“A story untold could be the one that kills you.” The man who said that was the great Southern writer Pat Conroy, who told his own story of pain and abuse and loss through the characters in his books. Today we mourn his loss.

Conroy wrote with great compassion about dysfunctional families and with evocative lyricism about the South. For both, he had an elegiac tone, but he also wrote of the healing power of love and forgiveness. “No story is a straight line. The geometry of a human life is too imperfect and complex, too distorted by the laughter of time and the bewildering intricacies of fate to admit the straight line into its system of laws.” He wrote about the terrible sins and crippling pain of the South and of his family.

The Great Santini, inspired by his father, became a movie starring Robert Duvall.

The Lords of Discipline, inspired by his years at the famously brutal military academy, The Citadel, was filmed with Bill Paxton and David Keith.

Conroy spent a year teaching school on a tiny island off the coast of South Carolina, where the children were so isolated that they barely understood that there was a world across the water. His book The Water Is Wide became the film “Conrack,” starring Jon Voight.

Barbra Streisand directed and starred in The Prince of Tides, based on his book about a man who leaves the South to go to New York when his twin sister is hospitalized following a mental breakdown.

“Here is all I ask of a book,” he wrote. “Give me everything. Everything, and don’t leave out a single word.”

Thank you, Mr. Conroy. May your memory be a blessing.

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