Saturday, April 27, 2013

Good and Cheap (Books)! Day 25

While working at the Texas Library Association meeting this week, I met a young librarian who has never read Pat Conroy. When I suggested Mr. Conroy for her book group she made a scrunched up face. No, I didn’t slap her. I told her I was about to change her life and then wrote down the following titles on the back of my business card.

Lords of Discipline, which is loosely based on Conroy’s experience at the Citadel. A coming of age novel, set during the turbulent 1960’s as the Vietnam War rages on and integration inches its way into the military school, Will, the main character must define for himself what it really means to be a man in uniform.

The Water Is Wide just might be my favorite Pat Conroy book. This is his memoir of his time teaching on remote Daufuskie Island in South Carolina. Nearly all the residents are decedents of slaves, illiteracy is rampant, and he struggles to reach the children and reconcile his teaching methods with that of the school principal. I loved this book because at its core, it’s the story about one man who changed a little bit of his world.

The Great Santini is also based on Conroy’s life and is a perfect example of a great American novel. It is full of drama, rage, sadness, and reconciliation. The film starring Robert Duvall is probably the best film adaptation of a book that I’ve ever seen. It breaks your heart.

The Prince of Tides (speaking of heart break) is Conroy’s best-known novel; it is gorgeous, sad, and hopeful. It is certainly a southern book, that’s for sure. I beg you not to see the movie.

I love southern writers anyway, but Pat Conroy is just a gem of a man, a real treasure, and definitely a writer you want to have a drink with. Anyway, I got an email from my new librarian friend; she went out and bought a copy of Beach Music. It's not one I put on the list because I actually haven’t read it. She said she picked it up because it sounds amazing.  Yeah, that’s Conroy. I think I’ll go pick up a copy, too. 

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