Pleasant last words from a highly regarded author who loved his life.



A collection of blog entries by the late, beloved novelist, along with a miscellany of speeches, interviews, and writings by and about him.

When Conroy (The Death of Santini, 2013, etc.) died on March 4, 2016, he was apparently less than 200 pages into his next novel, not enough for an editor or collaborator to complete for posthumous publication. The best of this celebratory volume serves his memory well, showing why legions of fans and fellow writers felt so strongly about him. As fellow Southern writer Rick Bragg notes, in one of the few pieces by others that merit inclusion, “I just know he was different from others at the top of his craft, different in his generosity.” That generosity of spirit and conversational engagement permeate Conroy’s writing here, even more than they do his novels. Where other writers merely endure book tours, he plainly enjoyed the chance to meet his readers, to hear their stories, and occasionally even connect with someone from his past. “If any writer in this country has collected as fine and passionate a group of readers as I have,” he writes, “they’re fortunate and lucky beyond anyone’s imagination.” Each woman he describes is more beautiful and irresistible and finer in character than the last. His fellow writers humble him with how bold and prolific and eloquent and insightful they are. His great teachers imparted lessons he has never forgotten. His friends were friends for life. He frequently returns to the topic of “Carol, my beloved sister,” who quit speaking to him after she felt he violated her privacy in his fiction. Though he considered the word “blog” to be “the ugliest word to emerge out of the ‘wired’ universe so far,” he thrived within its open-letter format, beginning most with “Hey, out there,” and concluding “Great love….” These hold together in a long first section, making the second section feel padded with odds and ends.

Pleasant last words from a highly regarded author who loved his life.

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-385-53086-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Nan A. Talese

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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