TITLE: Reading "My Reading Life" AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: December 27, 2010 9:21 PM DESC: ----- BODY: Author Pat Conroy I first became acquainted with Pat Conroy's work when, as a freshman in college, I watched The Great Santini as a requirement for one of my honors courses. This film struck me as both sad and hopeful. Since then, I have seen a couple of other movies adapted from his novels. A few years ago, I read his My Losing Season, a memoir of his final season as a basketball player at The Citadel, 1966-1967. Conroy's story is essentially that of a mediocre college-level athlete coming to grips with the fact that he cannot excel at the thing he loves the most. This is a feeling I can appreciate. The previous paragraph comes from a short review of My Losing Season written only a few weeks before I began writing this blog. That page gives summaries of several books I had read and enjoyed in the preceding months. (It also serves as an indication of how eager I was to write for a wider audience.) This break I am reading Conroy's latest book, My Reading Life. It is about his love affair with words and writing, and with the people who brought him into contact with either. I stand by something I wrote in that earlier review: "Conroy is prone to overwrought prose and to hyperbole, but he's a good story teller." And I do love his stories. I also value many of the things he values in life. In a moving chapter on the high school English teacher who became his first positive male role model and a lifelong friend and confidant, Conroy writes:
If there is more important work than teaching, I hope to learn about it before I die.
Then, in a chapter on words, he says:
Writing is the only way I have to explain my own life to myself.
Even more than usual, teaching and writing, whether prose or program, are very much on my mind these days. Reading My Reading Life is a great way to end my year. -----