Pat Conroy died on Friday in South Carolina at the age of 70.
Known for his many bestselling works, like Prince of Tides, The Great Santini and Lords of Discipline, Pat Conroy made fascinating work of turning his exceedingly disfunctional family into literary works of art.
Several of Pat Conroy’s books became movies with the most recognizable being Prince of Tides starring Nick Nolte and Barbra Streisand.
Many of Pat Conroy’s novels were centered around characters modeled after his family, especially his drunk, abusive father, U.S. Marine Colonel Donald Conroy.
Donald Conroy was a fighter pilot who fought in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. His military service forced his family of nine to move 23 times before Pat Conroy’s 18th birthday.
But it was Donald Conroy’s abuse that led Pat Conroy to try to sort his childhood out in the form of novels. The exposure of his father’s misdeeds split the family apart.
In a book called Why We Write About Ourselves, Pat Conroy explained that the abuse portrayed in his books wasn’t even as bad as what happened in real life.
He wrote, “I wasn’t yet prepared to say he beat us half to death and left us in the driveway. I had trouble getting people to believe me.”
Pat Conroy took to Facebook to announce that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer only just last month.
After his death, someone posted a sweet tribute that ends with, “There are rare people whose very existence make life bearable for the rest of us for reasons of grace, wisdom and understanding. Pat was such a men. To say he will be missed is the grandest of understatements.”
What was your favorite Pat Conroy novel?