We’ve covered the fact that I am a voracious reader before in this post https://wenreeve.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/true-confession/ and while I am a fan of many I’ve never really been a “groupie” of any author but when I heard that Mr. Conroy was going to be in Nashville speaking and signing his new book “Death of the Great Santini” I knew I would move heaven and earth to be there!
My Ansley introduced me to Mr. Conroy when we first met in 2006. You should know that hands down he is her FAVORITE author of all time and has been since she was in her teens. At her recommendation, my first book by Mr. Conroy was “The Water is Wide” and I knew right away that it was love. Mr. Conroy writes in a way no one else even comes close to in my mind. He takes me so deep into the story that I find myself taking on the feelings and struggles of the characters in the book and literally become so wrapped up in them that I struggle to walk away. There is no way I can read his books back to back because I get so involved that I border on morose and know for sure my family would never put up with me like that! If you have never read Mr. Conroy, shame on you. He is a prolific southern gentleman, scholar and writer of prose who pulls from deeply personal struggles in every book. His gift is such that I feel intimately acquainted with each and every character in his books. In my mind I have walked where they walked, ate what they ate and lived their life with them.
Amazingly, not only was Mr. Conroy going to be interviewed about his new book (by Ann Patchett no less- WHAT?!?!) but he was going to sign books afterward. Y’all, I would have been fine just to hear the interview. He. Was. Amazing. Like Ann Patchett said in the interview, “Pat, you write in such a way that we fall in love with a man you hated simply because of your compassion.” Mr. Conroy had us alternately laughing and crying over and over all in the space of an hour. He is bright, funny, charming and lights up when he talks about his family and his books. Then he went into the lobby of the auditorium and singed books for anyone who wanted one for over two hours (I say over two hours because that’s how long we waited and there were more after us!!) When it was your turn, he not only introduced himself to you personally, he looked you in the eye and shook your hand as if you were the only person in the room!!! Then he quietly talked with you while he signed your books. OH MY GOODNESS!!!
It was a night I will always remember and he is a man I will never forget. Mr. Conroy, thank you for being exactly what your mother wanted you to be, a quintessential southern gentleman through and through.