Publisher Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, October 29, 2013
In this powerful and intimate memoir, the beloved bestselling 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 dragged from military base to military base across the South, Pat bore witness to the toll his father took on his siblings, and especially on his mother, Peg. She was his lifeline to a better world, the world of books and culture, and despite the serial confrontations with his father Pat managed to claw his way towards a life he hardly could have imagined as a child.
Pat’s great success as a writer has always been intimately linked with his family life. While the publication of The Great Santini brought Pat much attention, the public rift it caused with his father generated more attention still. Their long-simmering conflict burst into the open, fracturing an already battered family even further. But as Pat tenderly chronicles here, even the oldest of wounds can heal. In the final years of his life, Don Conroy and his son reached a rapprochement of sorts. Quite unexpectedly, the Santini who had freely doled out backhanded slaps targeted his ire on those who had turned on Pat over the years. He defended his son’s honor.
THE DEATH OF SANTINI is a heart-wrenching account of personal and family struggle, and a poignant lesson in how 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, giving meaning to one of the most often quoted lines from his bestselling novel. The Prince of Tides: “In families there are no crimes that cannot be forgiven.”