Conversations with the Conroys opens further the discussion of the Conroy family through five revealing interviews conducted in 2014 with Pat Conroy and four of his six siblings: brothers Mike, Jim, and Tim and sister Kathy. In confessional and often comic dialogs, the Conroys openly discuss the perils of being raised by their larger-than-life parents, USMC fighter pilot Col. Don Conroy (the Great Santini) and southern belle Peggy Conroy (nee Peek); the complexities of having their history of abuse made public by Pat's books; the tragic death of their youngest brother, Tom; the chasm between them and their sister Carol Ann; and the healing, redemptive embrace they have come to find over time in one another. With good humor and often-striking candor, these interviews capture the Conroys as authentic and indeed proud South Carolinians, not always at ease with their place in literary lore, but nonetheless deeply supportive of Pat in his life and writing.
Edited and introduced by the Palmetto State's preeminent historian, Walter Edgar, Conversations with the Conroys includes the first publications of Pat Conroy's interview with Edgar as the keynote address of the 2014 One Book, One Columbia citywide "big read" program, the unprecedented interview with the Conroy siblings for SCETV Radio's Walter Edgar's Journal, the resulting live Conroy Family Roundtable held at the 2014 South Carolina Book Festival, and a recent interview in Charleston following Pat Conroy's induction into the Citadel's Athletics Hall of Fame. This collection is augmented with an afterword from National Book Award-winning poet Nikky Finney and nearly fifty photographs, many from the Pat Conroy Archive in the Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, University of South Carolina Libraries, and published here for the first time. Through the resulting treasure trove of text and images, this volume is as much a keepsake for Conroy's legion of devoted fans as it is a wealth of insider information to broaden the understanding of readers and researchers alike of the idiosyncratic world of Pat Conroy and his family."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-08-24
- Reviewer: Staff
This small gem of a book collects five group interviews conducted with bestselling author Pat Conroy (The Great Santini) and four of his siblings: Mike, Jim, Tim, and Kathy. Like many writers, Conroy wrote what he knew. Unfortunately for Pat and his siblings, that included the physical and verbal abuse inflicted by their father, Air Force colonel Donald Conroy, aka the Great Santini. As the eldest, Pat was often the target. He was also the one who would, “like a dog,” herd the other children to a safe place during their father’s rages. These valuable interviews provide intimate glimpses into the lives of children who suffered deeply but came to see themselves, in Tim Conroy’s words, as “survivors,” not “victims.” Those survivors had acquired enough perspective by the time they were adults to observe that their father “totally changed” after their mother divorced him, becoming a “nice guy and great grandfather.” Even brother Tom’s suicide, which Conroy calls the “great wound of our family,” is recounted with some humor (albeit dark humor). The abundance of joy present in the siblings’ exchanges about painful events, often expressed in teasing, underscores the message of South Carolina poet Nikky Finney’s afterword: that “the art of the conversation has the power to save each of us.” For fans of Conroy’s books, this is a must-read. 50 b&w illus. (Oct.)