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Conversations with the Conroys
Interviews with Pat Conroy and His Family

Edited with an Introduction by Walter Edgar
Afterword by Nikky Finney

Revealing interviews with Pat Conroy and four of his siblings offer fans a look inside the author's life and career

A New York Times best-selling author of eleven novels and memoirs, Pat Conroy is one of America's most beloved storytellers and a writer as synonymous with the South Carolina lowcountry as pluff mud or the Palmetto tree. As Conroy's writings have been rooted in autobiography more often than not, his readers have come to know and appreciate much about the once-secret dark familial history that has shaped Conroy's life and work.

Conversations with the Conroys opens further the discussion of the Conroy family through five revealing interviews conducted in 2014–15 with Pat Conroy and four of his six siblings: brothers Mike, Jim, and Tim and sister Kathy. In confessional and often comic dialogs, the Conroys openly discuss the perils of being raised by their larger-than-life parents, USMC fighter pilot Col. Don Conroy (the Great Santini) and southern belle Peggy Conroy (née Peek); the complexities of having their history of abuse made public by Pat's books; the tragic death of their youngest brother, Tom; the chasm between them and their sister Carol Ann; and the healing, redemptive embrace they have come to find over time in one another. With good humor and often-striking candor, these interviews capture the Conroys as authentic and indeed proud South Carolinians, not always at ease with their place in literary lore, but nonetheless deeply supportive of Pat in his life and writing.

Edited and introduced by the Palmetto State's pre-eminent historian, Walter Edgar, Conversations with the Conroys includes the first publications of Pat Conroy's interview with Edgar as the keynote address of the 2014 One Book, One Columbia citywide "big read" program, the unprecedented interview with the Conroy siblings for SCETV Radio's Walter Edgar's Journal, the resulting live Conroy Family Roundtable held at the 2014 South Carolina Book Festival, and a recent interview in Charleston following Pat Conroy's induction into the Citadel's Athletics Hall of Fame. This collection is augmented with an afterword from National Book Award–winning poet Nikky Finney and nearly fifty photographs, many from the Pat Conroy Archive in the Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, University of South Carolina Libraries, and published here for the first time. Through the resulting treasure trove of text and images, this volume is as much a keepsake for Conroy's legion of devoted fans as it is a wealth of insider information to broaden the understanding of readers and researchers alike of the idiosyncratic world of Pat Conroy and his family.

Walter Edgar is the Neuffer Professor of Southern Studies Emeritus and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at the University of South Carolina. He is the author of South Carolina: A History, editor of The South Carolina Encyclopedia, and host of the radio program Walter Edgar's Journal.

"Let's hope Tolstoy was right when he wrote that each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way, because the world couldn't handle more than one batch of Conroy children. Their way of dealing with memories of cruelty and fear involves a lot of dark humor, as these marvelous interviews reveal, and I'd love to have them as siblings, though not if the parents come with them."—John Shelton Reed, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

"This small gem of a book collects five group interviews conducted with bestselling author Pat Conroy and four of his siblings: Mike, Jim, Tim, and Kathy…. The abundance of joy present in the siblings' exchanges about painful events, often expressed in teasing, underscores the message of South Carolina poet Nikky Finney's afterword: that 'the art of the conversation has the power to save each of us.' For fans of Conroy's books, this is a must-read."—Publishers Weekly

"Conversations with the Conroys offers an intimate view into the life of Pat Conroy and his family. Beautifully illustrated with photographs that capture Conroy from the age of two to the present, the book is an invaluable resource for the writer's many admirers. Walter Edgar brings a deft touch to the work—both as an editor and as an interviewer. Edgar links Conroy's powerful literary work with his conversational voice in this impressive book and gives us a deeper understanding of his craft as a writer."—William Ferris, author of The Storied South: Voices of Writers and Artists

"Piercingly honest, hilarious, and gut-wrenching, Conversations with the Conroys, edited by Walter Edgar, portrays a deeply troubled family struggling to survive amidst terrifying abuse. It's ultimately a story of triumph, of the healing power of love and forgiveness. And it's a page-turner, as engrossing as any of Conroy's novels."—Robert H. Brinkmeyer Jr., University of South Carolina

 
 

 


 

SOUTH CAROLINA
(2015)
6 x 9
136 pages
50 b&w illustrations
ISBN 978-1-61117-630-8
hardcover, $27.95s
ISBN 978-1-61117-631-5
paperback, $19.95t
ISBN 978-1-61117-632-2
ebook, $18.99t
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AWARDS
Winner, Bronze medal, 2016 Independent Publisher Book Awards Results, in the Autobiography/Memoir category
 
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