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.