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."
©2013 Pat Conroy (P)2013 Random House Audio
"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.
"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.
"Another great Conroy book"
Prince of Tides. Same subject matter and tone.
Excellent!! Coudn't be better.
Part where Conroy gives eulogy for his dad.
I loved Hill's rendering of Conroy's father, the Colonel.
"A Necessary End Note"
If you have followed Conroy's saga of Santini and his other family members through the decades, this is a necessary listen. It presents new details - many horrible of course - as well as several very moving scenes. As Conroy's neighbors note in several scenes, "Your family always puts on a great show!"
Pat's eulogy for his father was fitting and memorable.
Dick Hill had a great voice for Santini as I imagine him. For Pat Conroy, his voice was less perfect (I have met Pat several times over the years).
Any book about Santini makes one cry (my god, how did that family survive at all!) as well as laugh at and with Santini and the other characters in response to the outrageousness of their lives.
"Could not get past the narrator."
I would have enjoyed having the option to listen to this book. I simply could not tolerate the narration. The narrator has a horrible style.
Yes, he destroyed the book.
It's a Pat Conroy work. I had to purchase the book and read it. I only wish I could get a refund for the Audible version.
"Raw & explosive view of author's life!"
This is a "tell it like it is" story of the life of Pat Conroy's family, specifically involving his father--"THE Great Santini". I believe Conroy is one of the very best of American writers. This story comes from his memories of his life with his family----memories that are admittedly different for each Conroy family member. After years of best sellers with fictitious names telling family stories, this gets to the heart of this family with real names and memories.
I have a special interest in Pat Conroy's writings because my husband was also a '67 Citadel graduate, and one of Boo's Boys (Conroy's first book). Conroy also spoke about his family at a CASA ( Court Appointed Special Advocate--working with abused and neglected children) conference that I attended in Charleston, SC when I was a CASA. Name dropping??-- Pat Conroy wouldn't know me if he ran into me on the street. But, these things have added another level of enjoyment to books that needed nothing additional to become favorites in my library!!
Pat is the eldest of seven children born to a Chicago Irish Catholic highly decorated Marine pilot, and a beautiful daughter of a snake handling religious fanatic from the back woods country and a mother who deserted her four young children to defend for themselves. Pat's young life saw him going from place to place where ever his father was stationed at the time. Violence and love centered a difficult and volition family life, resulting in five of the seven kids eventually trying to commit suicide, with the youngest son eventually succeeding.
But the real beauty of this ranting family life, is the continual love-hate relationship between everyone in the family. After The Great Santini was published, Pat was demonized by most of his family, but his father---"THE Great Santini"---took perverse pleasure in referring to himself by that name for the rest of his life. The movie version somehow brought family members back together again in a mixing bowl of emotions. This book is Pat's version of a famous line from his book, The Prince Of Tides: " in families there are no crimes beyond forgiveness."
Though memories can be different for members of a family who lived through the same events, the raw emotions, and spectacularly open and dramatic telling of this story by Pat Conroy, makes this a timeless story of many families where violence harms and divides families, children and marriages take a beating figuratively and literally, and love and forgiveness manages to inch their way into people's hearts. Though this could have been a morbid tale if told be a different author, Pat Conroy brings this story into the realm of timeless story telling because of the explosive personality of someone who can get right to the heart of a classic tale! Wonderfully told and expertly written!
"Santini should have stayed dead"
In the Great Santini,, Bull dies. In the Death of Santini he rises from the dead and I wish he had not. Listening to this book was like watching sausage being made. I didn't want to hear about the many frailties of Pat Conroy. He came across as whiny. I couldn't understand how he could have his hated father on book signing tours.
Haven't seen this month's selection.
Yes but I don't know that anyone could have elevated it.
I think Pat Conroy has mined this "dysfunctional family" about as much as possible. Move on Pat.
"Pat Conroy Settles Scores"
Yes. I am a big fan of Pat Conroy's novels and this memoir, though self-serving, gives additional depth to his novels. Having said that, he's not a very likable person.
It was extremely interesting to me that while he has spent a lifetime attacking his own abuser (his father), he supported and excused his sister's abuser (their mother). No wonder she hated him--I would have, too.
I can't say I loved it. Maybe because I have always imagined Pat Conroy's voice to be more like Nick Nolte's in Prince of Tides. It took me a while to get used to it.
I can see it, but I don't it should be made into a movie. He's hurt his family enough. This memoir is supposed to be the one that puts his relationship with his father to rest. Making a movie of it would make a lie of the premise of the book.
"Bad book, VERY bad narration"
This was possibly the poorest narration job I've experienced in many years of listening to books. It was overwrought, melodramatic, and made Conroy sound like a whining, self-absorbed humorless scold. I kept trying to imagine how a line of narrative would read in book form, without the narrator getting in the way. Reading this book would have been better. But not by much. Horrible childhood, I get it. It's an ugly tale of self-aggrandizement and score settling and trashing family members and others for a variety of sins against Pat Conroy. It sort of damages my opinion of him and his books. I wish I could get my credit back.
"A must read for fans"
Anyone who has read most of Conroy's books has to read this one because his father loomed large over virtually all of his work and everyone wants to know how it ends. However, I would not suggest that someone not into Conroy buy the book. It really doesn't have the strength to stand alone.
Dick Hill is a decent reader, but no one can read a Conroy book like Conroy.
As to whether there should be a followup book, there can't be - as Conroy died recently, and from a reader's standpoint, his collection is complete. I enjoyed all of his books except Beach Music, which to me is a sore thumb. After reading it I felt like finding his editor to shake him senseless.
Pat Conroy shouldn't be underrated. He was an excellent writer who wrote for all the right reasons. He was a true Southern writer in the same way Steinbeck was a Western writer - he made the land, sea and marshes come alive. We miss him.
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