from my bookshelf: the death of santini by pat conroy


conroy’s father, donald patrick conroy, is the center of this memoir. as a reader, i struggled with the fact that this was a true story of conroy’s relationship and experiences with his father. i could hardly believe that a child had to experience such hardening times. it saddened me and fascinated me also, to consider donald’s reaction to ready conroy’s perspective of his childhood. donald was a marine corps fighter pilot and fought his family as if they were an enemy abroad (or in some ways, treated his family even worse than that). pat was the oldest of seven children and painfully observed his father’s looming force as a mean, strong, and mysterious character, not to the exclusion of conroy’s mother and donald’s wife, peg.


“Desperately, I wanted to be a writer and didn’t see how my immersion into the annihilating white noise of suffering was going to help me in my quest.”

“Together we had forged a secret language made up of the blood and contentious harmonies that composed the music of our lives together.”

“I didn’t love her enough. It is a final, unbearable judgment I pass against myself.”

“Because birth order and the gap in our ages betrayed us, Tom and I could never recover what time has stolen from us. We were strangers to each other our entire lives.”

“…we discovered ourselves raised in a family where no one showed us how to love. For us, love was a circle and a labyrinth; all its passages and cul-de-sacs found themselves guarded by monsters of our own creation. Within us, love grew as slowly as stalactites in a cave, formed by calcite drips of water, one drop at a time.”

“The Family Crazy has complete control of any family’s hard-earned serenity.”

“What I knew about St. Patrick’s Day is that Dad would come home drunk and beat me up, so the day took on some of the characteristics of Kristallnacht to me.”

“I was born to the house of a puppet master, the dalang under the guise of Don Conroy. His wife and children were servants to the terrible dreamscape of his most bizarre qualities. He came at us like a lord of the underground, his rule disfigured. His family grew up around him, and we made our own judgments and told our own stories. By writing my novels, I tore the mask of the dalang out of your hands, Dad, and I decided to wear it myself.”

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