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The Death of Santini: The Story of a Father and His Son Hardcover – Deckle Edge

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Nan A. Talese; First Edition edition (October 29, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385530900
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385530903
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.7 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (629 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,160 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

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

From Booklist

Conroy has long used his family to great success. The Great Santini (1976) was the portrait of his marine-obsessed fighter-pilot father and Conroy’s long-suffering mother and siblings, who had to endure the violence, numerous moves, and great uncertainty created by his father. Don Conroy was from a Catholic family from the South Side of Chicago. Pat’s revered mother, a real southern beauty, played by Blythe Danner in the movie, was the author’s literary inspiration. She, as well as strong teachers, taught him the power of literature. His previous book, My Reading Life (2010), expands on these influences. Conroy does some name-dropping as the movie of The Great Santini had its premiere in Beaufort, South Carolina, Conroy’s home, and Hollywood’s biggest names turned out. In spite of the pain and cruelty, there was forgiveness, and a mature friendship was realized between Conroy and his father before the latter’s death. Conroy’s eulogy concludes the book and is a fine summing-up of a compelling and readable portrait of a dysfunctional family. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Conroy’s many fans will be alerted to his new book by an extensive ad campaign and will welcome it for its honesty, power, and humor. --Jay Freeman

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

Pat Conroy's writing is more like poetry than beautiful and lyrical.
Kitty Angell
If you have ever read his other books and wondered what is from his real life and what is not, this book will give you some big hints.
A story of a man and family coming full circle of hate to love nd the power of understanding and forgiveness.
Margaret Post

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

154 of 159 people found the following review helpful By Reading Junkie VINE VOICE on October 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Author Pat Conroy always writes of his actual life in his fictionalized books.

This book, however, is the nonfiction account of his life living with his abusive father, Don (the "Great Santini), his long-suffering mother Peg, and his damaged brothers and sisters. Conroy himself states, that of the the seven children Don and Peg created, five tried to commit suicide, and one did succeed (Tom, who threw himself off of a 14-story building).

Writing "The Great Santini" caused a rift in his family, father Don becoming angry and showing up at his book signings, reminding readers that the book WAS fiction.

But, writing the book also helped heal the contentious relationship he had with his father, a relationship detailed in this newest book, "The Death of Santini."

It is a difficult book to read, full of violence and pain, but also full of the beautiful language Conroy is known for. We do see the "Great Santini" stand up for his eldest son, and readers see that famous line from "The Prince of Tides" come to life: "In families there are no crimes beyond forgiveness."

You will grit your teeth in anger, clench your fists with rage, and weep at the power of forgiveness shown in this book.

It is well worth your time.
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90 of 97 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia K. Robertson TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
What a bonus! Pat Conroy is my favorite author and I have tickets to see him in November at the Free Library of Philadelphia. So I couldn't have been more pleased to see his latest memoir, The Death of Santini, offered through Amazon Vine. Very few authors have the opportunity to rewrite the endings to their novels, so The Death of Santini is a special book, indeed. As always, The Death of Santini is sad, funny, moving, tragic and beautifully written.

Pat Conroy grew up the oldest of seven children. His father was an Irish-Catholic from Chicago, and a fighter pilot in the Marines. His mother came from a poor, southern family but had a love of literature that she passed on to her children. Their marriage was toxic, "composed of terror and great violence, storm-tossed and seasoned with all the terrible salts of pain." For years, Colonel Don Conroy waged war against his family. The wounded child grew into a scarred man, and those scars damaged every relationship the author touched. But all that would change with the publishing of his novel, The Great Santini in 1976. The Great Santini was a fictionalized version of Conroy's father, and most of the hurtful family scenes were true to life. At first, The Great Santini caused great controversy among the Conroy family. The Colonel claimed it was all a lie. But with the divorce of Conroy's parents and his father moving nearby, the book helped to open a dialogue between the two. "There was something in my father that the book touched, and it opened up a place in his heart that I thought had closed off long before I was born. So we began a journey together, set off on a voyage that would take us to many places and shared experiences that I never thought were possible with such an incomprehensible man.
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44 of 48 people found the following review helpful By she treads softly on October 29, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
The Death of Santini: The Story of a Father and His Son is a powerful, emotional memoir by Pat Conroy. Most people know that Conroy has found cathartic inspiration for his writing from his childhood. Looming large among those childhood demons was his father, Colonel Donald Conroy, the inspiration for Bull Meecham in Conroy's The Great Santini. Don Conroy beat his wife and children and seemed incapable of showing affection. Conroy notes in the opening "I've been writing the story of my own life for over forty years. My own stormy autobiography has been my theme, my dilemma, my obsession, and the fly-by-night dread I bring to the art of fiction.... Only rarely have I drifted far from the bed where I was conceived. It is both the wound and foundation of my work."

Conroy was the oldest of seven children and seemed to have endured the brunt of his father's abuse. Five of the siblings would try to kill themselves before the age of forty; one succeeded. Conroy notes that his father "could have written a manual on the art of waging war against his wife and children. I can't remember a house I lived in as a child where he did not beat my mother or me or my brothers; nor do I believe that he would've noticed if both his daughters had run away from home. As the oldest child, my mother raised me to be the protector of her other kids, to rush them into secret hiding places we had scouted whenever we moved into a new house."

Conroy writes:

"When I was thirty years old, my novel The Great Santini was published, and there were many things in that book I was afraid to write or feared that no one would believe. But this year I turned sixty-five, the official starting date of old age and the beginning count down to my inevitable death.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Freudian Slips VINE VOICE on November 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The first Pat Conroy book I read was The Great Santini: A Novel-- after I saw the excellent movie. I was captivated by his writing style-- his southern sense of drama and the beautiful way he described his fictionalized, yet obviously dysfunctional family situation. I went on to read every subsequent book. His characters would fit right into a Tennessee Williams play or a Truman Capote story. That said, I never read anything about his life.

Another great southern writer, Harper Lee, described Boo Radley's horrible life in To Kill a Mockingbird by writing that Atticus Finch said you didn't know a person until you walked around in his shoes. "Just standing on Boo Radley's porch was enough," she wrote. That's how I feel about Pat Conroy: his books are written with such heart-aching beauty and torment that I never felt the need to find the person behind them. Just reading his books was enough.

But I am very glad that I read The Death of Santini: The Story of a Father and His Son. Learning about Conroy's father and the relationship they forged despite-- perhaps because of-- Conroy's truth-telling about the family was a fascinating read. Conroy's evocative southern style shines through the book-- while others might say they grew up in an abusive home, Conroy writes, "The Conroy children were all casualties of war, conscripts in a battle we didn't sign up for on the bloodied envelope of our birth certificates." Damn, he's good.
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