Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Pat Conroy and Me - and You

Don’t for a minute kid yourself.  Avid readers have a personal relationship (albeit a one-sided one) with the authors they read over several decades.  Sometimes we know more about the lives of our favorites, and what makes them tick, than we do about most friends we see in the real world.  The best writers reveal themselves to us over time, layer by layer, in their work and we often see ourselves reflected in their words.  A true kinship develops, a strong bond that can last a lifetime – theirs and ours. 

For me, Pat Conroy is one of those special people even though I came to know his work only when I stumbled upon a paperback copy of The Prince of Tides in 1987.  I may have been slow coming to Pat Conroy’s fiction, but I can still remember the excitement I felt while reading that novel.  I knew – immediately – that Pat Conroy was going to be someone whose work I would read and re-read for the rest of my life.  I was so excited about the book that I did something I had never done before; I started talking to friends and relatives about it.  I even purchased 15 copies of the paperback and handed them out as little Christmas presents that year.  But the funny thing?  I’m as excited to get a new Pat Conroy novel or memoir in my hands today as I was on that day almost three decades ago.

Now I hear that Pat Conroy is fighting pancreatic cancer but promises to complete the novel he’s currently working on.  And I hurt for my literary friend and wish I could tell him how much he has meant to me for the last 28 years.  I wish I could tell him how many people around the world are rooting for him as he endures what comes next in his life.  I wish I could tell him just how much he has contributed to our understanding of human nature and the world we live in.


I wish I could tell him how much we love him.

Pat Conroy
Hey out there,
I celebrated my 70th birthday in October and realized that I’ve spent my whole writing life trying to find out who I am and I don’t believe I’ve even come close. It was in Beaufort in sight of a river’s sinuous turn, and the movements of its dolphin-proud tides that I began to discover myself and where my life began at fifteen.
I have recently been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. With the help of the wonderful people at M.D. Anderson I intend to fight it hard. I am grateful to all my beloved readers, my friends and my family for their prayers. I owe you a novel and I intend to deliver it.
Much love,
Pat Conroy
My publisher, Nan A. Talese, will forward mail
Pat Conroy
c/o Doubleday, 1745 Broadway, 13th floor, New York, NY 10019
DDAYPub@randomhouse.com

4 comments:

  1. Wonderful post, and I'm so sorry to hear about this. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thanks, Rose. It's the kind of news that makes you appreciate even more what Pat has gifted us with to this point.

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  2. Sad news indeed. It's been a while since I read Pat Conroy but for many years Great Santini was my book. How he managed to base a book on my childhood, albiet very loosely, I'll never know.

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    1. Wow...James, you need to write your memoirs if your childhood even loosely resembles Conroy's. Seriously...

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