Pat Conroy · 0 pages
Rating: (0.9K votes)
“I’ve written more about my parents than any writer in the history of the world, and I still return to their mysterious effigies as I try to figure out what it all means—some kind of annunciation or maybe even a summing-up They still exert immense control over me even though they’ve been dead for so long. But I can conjure up their images without exerting a thimbleful of effort.”
“If any writer in this country has collected as fine and passionate a group of readers as I have, they’re fortunate and lucky beyond anyone’s imagination. It remains a shock to me that I’ve had a successful writing career. Not someone like me; Lord, there were too many forces working against me, too many dark currents pushing against me, but it somehow worked. Though I wish I’d written a lot more, been bolder with my talent, more forgiving of my weaknesses, I’ve managed to draw a magic audience into my circle. They come to my signings to tell me stories, their stories. The ones that have hurt them and made their nights long and their lives harder.”
“I have read like a man on fire my whole life because the genius of English teachers touched me with the dazzling beauty of language.”
“Few people understood the exceptional role the civil rights movement had on the white boys and girls of the South. Bill Clinton would never have become who he was without the shining example of Martin Luther King. The same is true of Jimmy Carter and Fritz Hollings and Richard and Joe Riley. Imagine this: you’re a little white kid and you watch firehoses turned on people who don’t seem to be hurting anyone, and fierce dogs being tuned on young men who carry signs about freedom. We white kids grew up watching movies and TV and guess what we had learned to do? We had learned to tell the good guys from the bad guys.”
“Humor has always been the redemptive angel in the Conroys’s sad history. With this family, I shall never grow hungry from lack of material.”
“I have always been attracted to male writers who can demonstrate their love and affection for women with ease, yet not draw attention to themselves.”
“The choices I didn’t make are almost as ruinous as the ones I did.”
“I envy the tireless intimacy of women’s friendship, its lastingness, and its unbendable strength.”
“Moonrise is a fabulous novel and my damn wife wrote it and that’s me up there near Highlands shouting it out to the hills.”
“A nation of unhappy teachers makes for a sadder and more endangered America.”
“Teaching remains a heroic act to me, and teachers live a necessary and all-important life. We are killing their spirit with unnecessary pressure and expectation that seem forced and destructive to me. Long ago I was one of them. I still regret I was forced to leave them. My entire body of work is because of men and women like them.”
“Throughout my career I’ve lived in constant fear that I wouldn’t be good enough, that I’d have nothing to say, that I’d be laughed at, humiliated—and I’m old enough to know that fear will follow me to the very last word I’ll ever write. As for now, I feel the first itch of the novel I’m supposed to write—the grain of sand that irritates the soft tissues of the oyster. The beginning of the world as I don’t quite know it. But I trust I’ll begin to know it soon.”
“I consider the two years in Beaufort when I taught high school as perhaps the happiest time of my life. My attraction to melodrama and suffering had not yet overwhelmed me, but signs of it were surfacing. No one had warned me that a teacher could fall so completely in love with his students that graduation seemed like the death of a small civilization.”
“From the beginning, I’ve told journalists that I planned to write better than any writer of my era who graduated from an Ivy League college. It sounds boastful and it is. But The Citadel taught me that I was a man of courage when I survived that merciless crucible of a four-year test that is the measure of The Citadel experience. I’m the kind of writer I am because of The Citadel.”
“I was raised in the Marine Corps and I was taught as a boy that you feed your own men before you feed yourself. It was my belief then, and it remains so today, that my platoon who loves and respect me will slaughter your platoon that hates you. But here is the great lesson I took from the plebe system—it let me know exactly the kind of man I wanted to become. It made me ache to be a contributing citizen in whatever society I found myself in, to live out a life I could be proud of, and always to measure up to what I took to be the highest ideal of a Citadel man—or, now, a Citadel woman. The standards were clear to me and they were high, and I took my marching orders from my college to take my hard-won education and go out to try to make the whole world a better place.”
“I was a watchful boy being raised by a father I didn’t admire. In a desperate way, I needed the guidance of someone who could show me another way of becoming a man. It was sometime during the year when I decided I would become the kind of man that Bill Dufford was born to be. I wanted to be the type of man that a whole town could respect and honor and fall in love with—the way Beaufort did when Bill Dufford came to town to teach and shape and turn its children into the best citizens they could be.”
“Generally, writers descend from a lesser tribe, and whatever claim to beauty we have shows up on the printed page far more often than it does in our mirrors. Even as I writer these words I think of dozens off writers, both male and female, who make a mockery of this generalization. But comeliness among writers is rare enough to be noteworthy.”
“To have attracted readers is the most magical part of my writing life. I was not expecting you to show up when I wrote my first books. It took me by surprise. It filled me with gratitude. It still does.”
“My father managed to change his entire life after I wrote a novel about his brutal regime as a family man. It took resoluteness and courage for my father to change, and I need to acknowledge that.”
“A woman in Charlotte approached me and said that she’s tired of the dysfunction in my novels. I told her I was sorry, but that is how the world has presented itself to me throughout my life.”
“I do not think I was a hothead—not then and not now. I thought I was right. I had read the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bible. Segregation seemed evil from the time I was a boy. Slavery is an abomination on the American soul, ineradicable stain on our body politic. But Penn Center lit a fire that has never gone out, and the election of President Barack Obama was one of the happiest days of my life.”
“People give me looks of pity and ask me why I want to wallow in my disconnection from a very connected world. It is simple. The world seems way too connected to me now. It seems to be ruining the lives of teenagers and bringing out the bestial cruelty in those who can hide their vileness under the mask of some idiotic pseudonym. I like to sit alone and think about things. Solitude is as precious as coin silver and it takes labor to attain it.”
“It’s the great surprise of my life that I ended up loving [my father] so much.”
“And I have begun thinking of that life as miraculous and lucky. How could a man I had dreaded as my commandant and who tried twice to get me kicked out of college become the subject of the first book I would write? [...] Who could have foreseen the day I would deliver his eulogy at the Summerall Chapel, or that I would give a speech on the night they named the dining room in the new Alumni Hall after him? Not me. Not once. Not ever.”
“Once The Boo roamed this campus fierce, alert, and lion-voiced, and his wrath was a terrible thing. He could scream and rant and call us “bums” a thousand times, but he could not hide his clear and overwhelming love of the Corps. The Corps received that love, took it in, felt it in the deepest places, and now, tonight, we give it back at the school where we started out and we give it to The Boo, as a gift, because once, many years ago, The Boo loved us first, when we were cadets of boys and when we needed it the most.”
“Over the years he began displaying that rarest of intellectual gifts—the ability and willingness to change his mind and do it in an orderly, well-reasoned way.”
“When we cuss each other out, call each other the vilest names on earth, and put each other down with thoughtless cruelty, it is the only way we know and the only language we have to express our ardent love for each other.”
“It eases my soul that I share a house with [Cassandra King] a novelist of such rare and distinctive gifts.”
“Throughout my career I’ve lived in constant fear that I wouldn’t be good enough, that I’d have nothing to say, that I’d be laughed at, humiliated—and I’m old enough to know that fear will follow me to the very last word I’ll ever write. As”
“Though I’ve never met a teacher who was not happy in retirement, I rarely meet one who thinks that their teaching life was not a grand way to spend a human life. The unhappy ones are the young ones, those who must teach in public schools when the whole nation seems at war with the very essence of teaching.”
“All he felt now was envy. These people had expectations. Of the world, of the future, it didn't matter--expectation was such an innovative concept to him that he couldn't help but be a bit moved by what they were saying. Whatever that was.”
I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
Yet I turn, I turn,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
“Live in the layers,
not on the litter.”
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.”
“Crafts had presumably bludgeoned his wife with a blunt instrument, severed her body into manageable pieces with the chain saw, frozen them until hard in the freezer, and then transported them to the lake-there to be reduced to little pieces by the rented wood chipper.”
“...people are most deeply offended by moral failings that mirror their own.”
“Don't worry," I repiled, "I usually don't argue with the voices.”
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