Driving through South Carolina in early April, I smiled wistfully when as we passed the exit to Beaufort. The literary light of Beaufort and gifted southern writer Pat Conroy passed away March 4. I’d seen the “Prince of Tides” ages ago, but couldn’t recall reading the book. I shop in the non-fiction section, usually biography, anyway.
It took reading his obituaries to learn that his novels were autobiographical, powerful and beautifully written. I became a fan girl right then, too late to meet my new personal literary hero, but smitten just the same.
I started my Conroy binge with the Santinis–“The Great Santini” and “The Death of Santini.” I followed it with “The Water is Wide.” Next stop is the “Lords of Discipline.”
To write about real people in your life takes real courage. I am trying to marshal a bit of that Conway courage as I write through a family saga. In any story, sometimes the heroes are also the villains. They are often people we love. Pat Conroy told his stories honestly, like a neat shot of whiskey that burned first then warmed the reader.
Son of Santini, thanks for the inspiration!