I have to admit I am not a fan of Pat Conroy's books. I am just not prone to reading about dysfunctional families and abuse and bullying. So the only book of his that I have read is his non-fiction collection of essays, My Reading Life. In it he writes about things dear to my heart: books and bookshops, writers and writing, Paris and the South.
When I read there was a new collection of Mr. Conroy's non-fiction published after his death in March of this year, I thought I would give it a try. The book contains blog posts, letters, interviews, addresses, and other short pieces gathered together in A Lowcountry Heart: Reflections on a Writing Life. Lowcountry refers to the region along South Carolina's coast and is the location of Beaufort where he lived. It is a charming town. I have visited there and can attest to its many attractions.
The first entries in this collection include twenty-five posts from the blog that he kept from 2011-2015. Some are quite intriguing, especially the ones detailing books that he is reading or wants to read and authors that he has met. Others feel a bit self-conscious and contain stories about meeting old friends at book signings or tales of classmates from his days at The Citadel. You can actually read all his posts here.
There are a couple of tributes to Mr. Conroy including an introduction by his widow Cassandra King, his editor Nan Talese, and his oldest friend and fellow author Bernie Schein. The one I am looking forward to reading (and am saving for last) is written by Rick Bragg and was published in Southern Living. The text of the eulogy given at Mr. Conroy's funeral is also here.
I suppose if you are a fan you will be eager to have all these words of Mr. Conroy's to hold close to your heart. I am pretty neutral about the content and can't help feeling this book was published to fill the coffers of his estate. (Does that sound too mean?)
Even though most of the pieces from this collection can be found online or in other publications, if you already love Mr. Conroy you will probably want this for your bookshelf. If you are not already a fan, this book will most likely not change your mind.
But do give My Reading Life a try. It is quite readable and I highly recommend it.
How about you? Are you a fan of Pat Conroy's books? It's OK if you are. We can still be friends.