- Writing is the only way I have to explain my own life to myself.
- From the time I could talk, I took an immense pleasure in running down words, shagging them like fly balls in some spacious field.
Pat Conroy's collection of 15 essays is beautifully written. Each essay gives us a glimpse of his love of reading and, more importantly, how he became the teller of tales he is today. The book is peppered with the titles he remembers fondly. He shares the words that shaped his love of language. He shares stories of people whose influence made a lasting impression, both good and bad, on his life. He shares why he is who he is today.This excerpt is a perfect example of the careful crafting of Conroy's: I had witnessed with my own eyes that a poem could make a Colonel cry. Though it was not part of a lesson plan, it imparted a truth that left me spellbound. Great words, arranged with cunning and artistry, could change the perceived world for some readers. From the beginning, I’ve searched out those writers unafraid to stir up the emotions, who entrust me with their darkest passions, their most indestructible yearnings, and their most soul killing doubts. I trust the great novelists to teach me how to live, how to feel, how to love and hate. I trust them to show me the dangers I will encounter on the road as I stagger on my own troubled passage through a complicated life of books that try to teach me how to die. (pp 10-11)
I am so happy that Carol send me some her favorite lines from the book. As I read, I'm collecting my own. Pat Conroy has done a brilliant job of capturing his journey, which is vastly different from my own... but as I read, I'm reminded of Mildred Hache, our small town librarian, who let me spend hours perusing the wooden shelves in our small town library. I'm reminded of Downie Bishop, my third grade teacher who read us The Boxcar Children. I'm reminded of my father, a biblical scholar, who read stories from the bible with sincerity and passion. I'm reminded of the hours my mom would spend telling stories, usually over a game of Canasta or Racko. I'm reminded of Mildred Henrie, my second grade teacher whose voice I can still hear sharing stories, she had a delightful laugh and her eyes twinkled when she noticed I discovering a new word!
And, that's the real beauty of this book... it causes you, the reader, to want to think more deeply at your own journey as a reader and writer. I just may have a little notebook writing to do!