Editorial Reviews for this title:
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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
An Amazon Best Book of the Month, November 2013: Funny thing about Pat Conroy: a prolific chronicler of his own life as a 20th century white Southern male, he writes novels that read like nonfiction and memoirs that read like novels. The Death of Santini falls into the second camp, but like the memoirs before it-- The Water is Wide, My Losing Season--it has the heated, emotional language and grand operatic sweep of his later novels, Prince of Tides and Beach Music. As always, this long and sometimes repetitive book addresses common Conrovian themes--complicated families of epic violence, blood feuds, and passionate connections. (At the center of it (also as usual) are his parents, Peg and Don Conroy, who readers will remember most specifically from The Great Santini, which is so realistic (see above) I often refer to it as a memoir but, is, in fact, a novel.) But if the subject matter and style are to be expected--coming to terms with the violent, alcoholic, unrepentantly macho father who beat and belittled his wife and children, calling them “Jocko” and “sports fans” and so much worse--there are surprising details here, too. I was struck by the way Don Conroy took ownership of his “Santini” persona (played in the film by Robert Duvall), for example, attending speaking engagements with his son, winning over crowds and even, eventually, Pat himself. Also, I had forgotten that despite his relentless psychologizing, Conroy actually has a warm sense of humor, sometimes even about himself. Never mind that the author has made a career of analyzing his dysfunctional family; if writing is therapy for Conroy, it’s a good excuse for the rest of us also to take to the couch--for hours of big-hearted, old fashioned storytelling. -- Sara Nelson
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