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My Losing Season: A Memoir Paperback – August 26, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Loss is a fiercer, more uncompromising teacher, coldhearted but clear-eyed in its understanding that life is more dilemma than game, and more trial than free pass," writes bestselling author Conroy in his first work of nonfiction since The Water Is Wide (1972). Conroy is beloved for big, passionate, compulsively readable novels propelled by the emotional jet fuel of an abusive childhood. The Lords of Discipline, The Great Santini, The Prince of Tides and Beach Music are each informed by a knowledge of pain and heartache taught to him by a Marine pilot father whose nickname was "the Great Santini." Here, in a re-creation of the losing basketball season Conroy and his team endured during his senior year at the Citadel, 1966- 1967, Conroy gives readers an intimate look at how suffering can be transformed to become a source of strength and inspiration. "I was born to be a point guard, but not a very good one," he admits. Drawing on extensive interviews with his teammates, he chronicles, game by game, their talent and his sheer determination and grit. In Conroy's hands, sports writing becomes a vehicle to describe the love and devotion that can develop between young men. Toward the end of this moving work, Conroy explains that writing books became "the form that praying takes in me." But readers will see how basketball can also be a way of reaching for something finer than a winning score. What emerges is a portrait of a young man who isn't a soldier but a knight with a great and chivalrous heart. Anyone who was a son or knows a son will be touched by this book.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

The best-selling novelist, who loves sports but claims to be an indifferent athlete, here recounts a seminal season playing basketball at the Citadel.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 402 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Books; Reprint edition (August 26, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553381903
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553381900
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (233 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,995 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Pat Conroy is the author of eight previous books: The Boo, The Water is Wide, The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline, The Prince of Tides, Beach Music, My Losing Season, and The Pat Conroy Cookbook: Recipes of My Life. He lives in Fripp Island, South Carolina. Photo copyright: David G. Spielman

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

131 of 132 people found the following review helpful By Ronald Scheer on June 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
There's a scene in a 1970s movie in which Gene Hackman tries to grind up a broken wine glass in a garbage disposal. Reading this book is a lot like that.
I picked up "My Losing Season" not as a great fan of Pat Conroy or as a former athlete. I was attracted more by the theme of loss and its lessons. And I expected a different personal story than the one Conroy tells. The losing basketball season in his last year as a cadet at The Citadel in Charleston, SC, is a pretext for a much deeper theme - survival in the face of humiliation.
And it's not the losses of the games that are humiliating. On the one hand is the brutal and unrelenting contempt of his marine colonel father, a child abuser and wife beater. On the other hand is the withering scorn of Conroy's arbitrary and capricious coach, Mel Thompson. Both, in Conroy's account, do their best to beat the spirit out of the boy who has grown into an indomitable (though undersized and modestly talented) point guard for his team. And all of this takes place in the regimented, fierce, all-male environment of The Citadel in the 1960s, where incoming boys are routinely broken by the merciless hazing of their upperclassmen.
Humiliation is a much more difficult subject than loss to deal with. Loss leaves scars, but humiliation remains an open wound, and in writing about it there is the risk of slipping into the tug of war between self-pity and self-blame. Conroy takes us there sometimes, and those are the parts of his story that are lacerating. But win or lose, the ups and downs of the season are fascinating and the accounts of the games are thrilling. As a writer, he has a gift for hustling the reader with suspense and drama and sudden shifts of mood.
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68 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Satyabodhi Densmore on August 30, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a well-written book for anyone who ever experienced failure or the fear of failure while trying very hard to succeed. "My Losing Season" is an autobiography that focuses on the author's senior year as a college basketball player at The Citadel, the famous military school in Charleston, South Carolina. The Citadel Code begins with, "To revere God, love my country, and be loyal to The Citadel. To be faithful, honest, and sincere in every act and purpose and to know that honorable failure is better than success by unfairness or cheating."
This book holds a demonstration of how to grow more honest with oneself and sincere with others. This is a story of fear, sadism, injury, failure and loss and how these can lead to courage and achievement or degradation and estrangement.
In a way that smells like truth, Conroy tells his story, reconstructing memories over 30 years old. His understanding matures as he reconnects with the shattered team of his youth and the boy that failed them. He doesn't blame, he reveals - everything. When Conroy writes about himself, he is telling the truth about all of us. When reading this poetic work, one cannot avoid feeling connected to deeper truths of the human condition. There is no better way to spend one's reading time.
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68 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Michael Beverly on November 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was a bit unsure at first if I was ready to read a non fiction work by Pat Conroy. I enjoy non fiction and have lately devoted most of my reading to it, but I wasn't sure what I was going to be getting when I read the description of "My Losing Season". After all, who cares about an unknown college basketball team that played in the sixties?
I haven't read all of Mr. Conroy's books yet, not because I don't think he is one of the great writers of all time, but because I know that I'll only get to read them once for the first time. My introduction into his worlds of fiction caught me by surprise because I was well into 'The Prince of Tides' before I realized that the book wasn't a true story. I now realize after reading 'My Losing Season' that everything he writes is true, even the fiction.
I would have broken down crying several times during the reading of this book, but my heart is still guarded by never sleeping sentinels whose tireless detail is to walk the stone walls that guard my interior. Mr. Conroy manages to gain an entrance, however, and at times during reading his work I feel a sense of hatred towards him. Not meanness, just anger with no where to go.
So what is it about this book, this story that makes it so worth reading? The nakedness that Pat Conroy brings to the page. The truth. Simple and raw and courageous. Enduring and joyful, sad and painful.
I envy his memories, his legacy, his past, not because I feel that the journey was easy or he was lucky, but because whatever molded him into the man he became, whatever blessing or curse that was bestowed him at birth, whatever angels or demons followed his path, he has been able to live outside of the shells and caves and fortresses that most of us dwell in.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 9, 2002
Format: Hardcover
MY LOSING SEASON is a sports memoir as honest and heartbreaking as a double overtime loss to a hated rival.
It is also the only memoir that deals directly with the true story --- step by step, game by game --- of an NCAA Division I basketball team that won a mere eight games (out of 25). This is counterintuitive for a sports book. You see, we are supposed to remember those athletes and teams that never lose, the Knute Rocknes, not the Bill Buckners. Yet both examples offer powerful stories.
This was the only type of sports book Pat Conroy could write.
In a moment of kismet while on the book tour for BEACH MUSIC, Conroy reconnected with his former teammate John DeBrosse. They found themselves replaying the minutiae of a loss on a basketball court 30 years ago. Both men were marked by that losing season. This encounter served as catalyst to search for meaning from this lost season. Conroy devoted two years to pouring through old newspaper clips, interviewing former teammates and diving into his own memories to reignite the fires of regret and disappointment.
He recalls that the best memories his teammates had from the 1966-67 Citadel Bulldogs Varsity Basketball team were of the great players they went up against. They remember the Michael Jordans --- or in this case the Johnny Moates. Conroy writes, "In every home I entered as I reconstituted my team, I found instead of memory scar tissue and nerve damage. There is no downside to winning. It feels forever fabulous. But there is no teacher more discriminating or transforming than loss."
This memoir peeks audaciously into the minds of players on a losing team: what made them tick, what they thought and who made them what they became. So the daring part is --- who cares about a bunch of losers?
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