A Long Lasting Friendship: Charlie Gibson of Good Morning America

My desk

Hey, Out There…

It is a day before my 68th birthday and I ready myself for life on the road that I’m too edgy and tired-blooded to do as I did with pleasure in my misspent youth. When I was in New York, I taped an interview with Charlie Gibson for Good Morning America. Charlie has always struck me as a man of exceptional qualities. Because he is a creature of television, I fell in love with his looks and spirit long before I got to know him. The most difficult thing for a television reporter or anchor to suggest to an audience is authenticity. Charlie’s body language speaks a truth that can’t be faked of polished up or improved with time. It’s a natural gift and Charlie was born to his naturalness and it’s the rarest gift of the famous.

When Beach Music came out in 1995, Charlie and his crew (also delightful) came to my house on Fripp Island in South Carolina.

Charles Gibson and I

I have a small addiction to showing off the beauty of the Lowcountry, its white-sand beaches and its green mileage of marshlands, and Charlie’s enthusiasm matches his integrity. When we first met, he told me he thought I’d been influenced by John Irving and I told him about “Garp” thundering into my life and letting me know that I wasn’t being brave enough as a writer. It was a splendid literary appraisal and let me know that Charlie Gibson was a serious and thoughtful reader as well as one of the great students of politics I’d ever met.

New York is a city abloom with secret studios. They exist in buildings without style or architectural merit, but I met Charlie at one of them for a seven in the evening taping. In his elegance, he has become a handsomer older man than he was in his twenties. We embraced when we saw each other and he’s the only anchor I’ve ever hugged on a regular basis. It’s an emotional war between my Citadel and his Princeton, but he’s an affectionate, easygoing guy and I’ve taken advantage of that. At one meeting, he told me that he’d met everyone in the world for five minutes, but then, often never saw them again. He was an aficionado of five-minute friendships. If we’d lived next door to each other I think we’d have been best friends for life. But he was incising his name into the history of American news and I was trying to write those books of mine. The interview moved me. Charlie moved me as he always does. Once, I saw him treat two black high school girls as if they were royalty when they recognized him on a ferryboat in the Savannah River. Not every famous man or woman treats strangers with such open-hearted wonder as Charlie Gibson. His interview with me was superb. Gibsonian. Deep. It airs on Tuesday October 29th.

I am lucky to get to know a man as fine as Charlie Gibson. America is lucky to have him delivering its news.

Pat Conroy, Patty Neger (GMA Producer), Charlie Gibson

Doubleday had me staying at the Essex House hotel on Central Park South. When I was a younger and nimbler man I used to love walking the streets of New York for hours at a time, but neuropathy has slowed me up. I did walk over to Rizzoli’s bookstore on 58th Street because I have cherished the atmosphere of that store since I first arrived in New York City in 1972. I bought the new Donna Tartt book (which I’ve heard the best things about on earth), the new Marisha Pessl, because I’d found myself overpowered by her prose style in her novel “Special Topics in Calamity Physics.” Also, I picked up the new novel by Bob Shacochis, “The Woman Who Lost Her Soul.” I’d revered his early short stories and did not know about his new work of fiction. As I was checking out with my credit card, a young black woman looked at my name and said, “There’s a writer that goes by this name.”

Once, I tried to make jokes about it and said I’d heard about the guy and understood that he was a talentless jerk. But painful experience has taught me that confession is good for the soul and certainly the most polite way of handling an awkward situation.

“Yes, ma’am. I’m that guy,” I admitted.

“Ma’am? You are from South Carolina. I’m from St. George.”

“No, you’re not. Nobody’s from St. George,” I said.

“You don’t even know where St. George is,” she challenged.

I laughed and said, “For four straight years, I played for the city of Beaufort in the St. George Tournament, which was the state championship for all towns in the state. One year, Columbia beat us by two points in the championship.”

She was so excited she did what all South Carolinians do when they meet on the road. She came out and we hugged and exchanged addresses. Then she told me she was a working poet and ran into her office to print out her poetry. Her name was Leonore Tucker and her poetry was skillful and artfully expressed. I think that Leonore Tucker may have a bright future in poetry. But it is the accidents of the road, the unplannable encounters that I always have loved best. South Carolina is not a state; it is a cult.

Great Love

 

64 Responses to A Long Lasting Friendship: Charlie Gibson of Good Morning America

  • Great story.
    Citadel ’70

  • Judi Franzen says:

    I am so excited to hear your interview. I will go and “DVR” it right now. See you Tuesday! Judi

  • Bernie Ragsdale says:

    Pat, you are a master of word and feeling, but South Carolina is a mess, except for the likes of you. God (big G or little g) bless you and your talents.

    • Constance Colcord says:

      Yes, South Carolina is a mess these days. I moved back to the lowcountry and lasted 17 months before I had to leave and go back to my little island I found on the east coast of Florida. But I always get Pat’s book on the release day. It reminds me of the great love I have for SC, and always will have, as long as I’m not there anymore. Like Bernie said, God bless you and your talents.

      • Leigh Walker says:

        Constance, I am a long-time SC lowcountry resident and I love everything about it…its natural beauty, the quirky people, the culture of families who have been here longer than I, the food…I admit I have my head stuck in the sand about some things that I won’t mention here, but I am curious as to what drove you back to FL after having returned to SC for 17 mos. Thanks. Signed: Nosey and Curious

  • Debbie Jones says:

    I just knew Charlie Gibson is a man of great integrity and such a genuinely caring person. I tried on several occasions to meet him at GMA, but, unfortunately, he was on location away from NYC each time. Next time you give him a hug, give him one from me. I love you work as well. Loved the movie, Conroy, back in 1972. Made my parents and younger siblings go see it w/me again.

  • Kathy Lowery says:

    I love love love John Irving. It is great to know that you too revere his work. Your work is pretty darn good too. ;-)

  • Jennie H Osborne says:

    Does living just a bit above Charlotte put me close enough to South Carolina to count? Going to be buying your new book in a few days and cannot wait to get started. I love everything you have ever written and would be hard pressed to name a favorite. Best wishes always.

  • Jane davis says:

    Pat Conroy I love you man, can’t wait til tues and Death of Santini, I am the one who came to frank stitt’s book signing in bham just to meet you and give you a Silly fan letter…and. BOught a $50 cookbook ( which is wonderful by the way), and you made my life by calling me back on the phone….well, I tried to keep up with you and super Sandra through Linda Andrews at Hoover library…I was always afraid of appearing to be a stalker…I saved your # that was in my caller ID, and a few weeks ago summoned the courage to call you after I read My Reading Life ….to let you know how B-12, B-52
    It inspired me….well, I should have known that your number or residence would change in the YEARS since I met you here, and was sorely disappointed to hear the recording that relieved my sweaty palms holding the phone.,,.that the number was no longer in service….fart. But I am still moved, just like the rest of the civilized world, when I read your heart words and see your feelings splayed in the pages …and when I listen on CD, I hear your voice raw with the pain of an undeserved past…but I always think that if you had not survived, with humor and heart in tact, you would not be able to flood the pages of those books with real life and relatable hatred, forgiveness, pain and celebration of life….we are moving to oak island next October, or whenever our little house is built..brother in law joe Davis moved there from ATL last November; his house is on cul de sac of west indian, just inside folly; son-in-law Joseph and Erica ( attended college of charleston, met and married there, and could not leave….understandably) is going to build our house. He owns Archer Construction, office downtown near the battery. We have fallen completely and senselessly in love with charleston….count the minutes to each return trip, and wish you and Sandra were going to leave nearby….would love to throw flour at you as we cook and enjoy folly sunsets and bloody Marys as our hearts pump waiting for sunrise on the corner of the Tides. I have never fallen for a CITY in my life!! We are all from ATL, but we have been in bham for many years.
    Our relatives there now are dear to us, but I’m telling you, reading every single word you have written, embellished or true, about charleston, just further hooked me…lured me, wooed me and made the magic happen….can’t believe we are getting to live the dream…leaving grandchildren here to do so,,,! I am the one who refuses to finish your cookbook because I don’t want it to be over… I love that book. Favorite still is My Losing Season…
    Want so badly to meet you again sometime. I am still writing….but caring for recently widowed 87 yr old mother and teaching piano to 45 students takes a toll on “me-time”… I figure my time is coming….next year….would love to hear from you. I am on Facebook….Jane h Davis. 2839 five oaks lane, bham 35243… For now !! 205-913-7131. I would love for you to coach me in my writing…. I am in a writer’ s group and have several starving artist friends who self publish or have been published, love it…admire you greatly for reading all those fabulous books….went straight to Hoover library to get Look Homeward Angel and 3 others you mentioned in My Reading Life…wow, so intimidated with your reading repertoire,,,.wish I had had that influence….never too late, right? Love having your inspiration in my life… would love your friendship as well. Can’t wait to be a charlestonian….seems like a dream that will never happen right now….never stop writing. Love, Jane

    • Nina Angela McKissock says:

      I suggest you read Stephen King’s book, On Writing, first. He stresses that the first thing to learn is grammar. It’s a wonderful book.
      Nina

  • Jean Burton says:

    What a great story. I also love Charlie Gibson. There are no coincidences. Ms. Tucker was meant to be in your life on that day at that very moment. Squire Rushnell calls these incidences “Godwinks” and has written several books about them. I have collected my own “Godwinks” through the years and have written them down. I always wanted to meet you. I was in Dulles airport on the morning of the 8th of October. We had flown in from CA on the red eye and were very tired. We were waiting for our flight to Providence, RI. A plane arrived and as I watched people walk into the airport I saw either you or your twin. I realized who it was a little bit after you had passed. I briefly considered running up to you and saying “are you Pat Conroy?” I figured that was the last thing you needed and you probably had to be somewhere quite soon. It was neat just getting to see you. Beach Music is my favorite of your books, Lords of Discipline just about did me in….I really live in your books and when they end I always want more…

  • I had never read any of your books until Rosie O’Donnell suggested South of Broad. It is the most favorite book in my library. And I reread it when I need a good cry. Usually around the time of Sheba’s death. At age 40 I discovered that my alcoholic father had a brother named Jack who killed himself by drowning up on three rivers at an outing from Chattahoochee hospital. His Southern Seven Day Adventist family from Georgia and Orlando would rather have their friends think Jack was insane rather than homosexual or a cross dresser. He was only 20 years old. An uncle who I never even knew existed. I was so enraged that I went to his grave site and placed a rose. My grandfather Benjamin Fuller was a railroad man in New York, South Carolina and Florida. He was a raging alcoholic who beat Jack in an attempt to knock the sissy out of him. Then he put him in military school. When they didn’t work they had him committed. He was a beautiful beautiful man. His sister Anne never recovered from his suicide. After her death she left me her screen play about her life and Jacks up until his death. Her faith could never accept he would have been a homosexual, as she loved him so. She would always tell me. Jack was just artistic. I am trying to find someone to tell Jack’s story. I hate that my Southern family covered him up like he never existed. You can find photographs of Jack on my twitter page and added comments about his life under the photographs. Thank you for your story. Also, my father was a retired Navy officer. Also a raging alcoholic but I forgave him. We went to Folly Beach every summer. I learned to speak gullah and Geechie. I love Edisto Beach. https://twitter.com/sparroweye66

  • Cindy Byers says:

    I love your work and particularly love your description of SC… A cult. Also, I can’t wait to read your new book, but I think I need to read, “The Great Santini” first. The thought of reading it always frightened me because I was certain that you were actually writing about my dad, not yours. Or at least it would feel that way.

    A fellow Fripp Islander

  • Tricia Collins says:

    Happy Birthday, Pat! Looking forward to the interview with Charlie Gibson and your new book! Did you know Bob Schacochis lives in Tallahassee? Passed through your beautiful state (and my (Barnwell) ancestral home) the other day after visiting Janis & Wendel in Virginia. We tipped our hat to you.

  • Kate Mura says:

    My husband and I have tickets to see you at the Fitzgerald Theatre in St. Paul, MN, and anxious also to read your most recent book. Will then have read all of your books, including the cookbook. Welcome to our city!!

  • Happiest of Birthdays, buddy.

  • Reuben F. Johnson says:

    It is the mark of a truly kind and generous soul when Pat Conroy, whose writing is so much in demand, spends time communicating with the rest of us who wish we were as gifted as he was. The post on Charlie Gibson is very touching and it saddens me that his type of newsman is a breed which is almost extinct in today’s world. I keep hoping someday we will escape from the world of “I have to blog what I just heard 10 seconds ago before someone else does” that is just streams of babbling with no analysis, no thought and no perspective, but it is hard to see it going away ever.

  • Marc Curtis says:

    In this short article, I feel like I just read a great book! Thank you Pat!

  • Darlene Wynn says:

    You were the psychology teacher when I went to Beaufort High. My friends share stories on Facebook about the trip you took them to on Bull Street. We are so proud to say we know you, Pat Conroy.

  • Carolyn says:

    Happy Birthday!

  • Jamie Wyatt says:

    I always love to hear your book recommendations! Hoping to see you in Atlanta!

  • Kathy Winstead says:

    So glad you got a bit of time to yourself in New York! With its little “nooks and crannies” it’s one of my favorite places to wander! So looking forward to seeing your interview with Charlie tomorrow.
    Take care, my friend. . .

  • Christine LaValle says:

    Mr. Conroy, I am enjoying hearing of those who intersect your life’s path. You may be the best example of a South Carolinian I can think of right now! My youngest daughter and her husband chose to move to Charleston on Mothers Day weekend five years ago in part due to the irresistible nature of the people down there. May the Lord bless you and yours!

  • I checked the day/time on GMA and it reads THURSDAY, OCTOBER 24, not Tuesday, October 29th. Is that correct??? View here:

    http://www.broadwayworld.com/bwwtv/article/Scoop-GOOD-MORNING-AMERICA-Week-of-1021-on-ABC-20131018

    Huge fan of yours…would love to see Beach Music made into a movie. Was a great fan of Gibson’s until the Sarah Palin interview. It jaundiced my view of him, unfortunately…
    But please check the date for your loyal fans for they would not want to miss it.

  • Henry McCarthy says:

    Thank you for being real and simple…Looking forward to seeing you at Quail Ridge books again…You and Nancy make a grand team….:):)

  • Penni Barefoot says:

    Happy Birthday to you!! I agree, SC is a cultural experience. I grew up in Calabash NC, exactly one mile from the SC line. I have spent a lot of summers as a teen going to Myrtle Beach to roast on the beach during the day and party at night. Wouldn’t trade it for the world! Also, can’t wait to read your newest book and fall in love with you all over again. Take care and I hope you have many more birthdays.

    Penni

  • Eddie Strange says:

    Pat, Big fan of your books. I am an Army brat and love South Carolina too. Looking forward to reading your latest book Death of Santini. Eddie

  • Marie says:

    Mr. Conroy, The burdens people lay on your shoulders with their tales of their sad childhoods seem too heavy a cross to bear since after all, we must all carry our own burdens, and yours was crushingly difficult at times. I began reading your beautiful words when I was in my twenties and now at 65, I absorb them through my pores just as I did when I was young. I often read passages aloud to my husband, though he didn’t always see the humor. He just never felt a wife cooking dog food hash was as funny as I did, can you imagine that! I lost him to Dr. Death when we were young but I’ll always have those memories of sharing your wonderful descriptions of Southern living, as we always pass crazy on the way down the road. Thank you for those words.

  • Moira says:

    Wanted to let you know that your books have become such a source of connection between my father and me. He has lost his ability to speak due to ALS but we share our love of your work and write back and forth about your works which, by the way, have nicely served as Father’s Day and birthday presents. He is eagerly awaiting The Death of Santini which I purchased for his birthday back in August. Thank you!

  • Blessings to you, Pat! When I read just now of Mr. Gibson’s kindness to those teenagers, I couldn’t help but think of your humility and kindness at the Pulpwood Festival in Jefferson, TX. Not many men of your statue would agree to tape a “greeting” to my radio audience the way you did on the spot several years ago. Not many men of your statue would take photo after photo with adoring fans the way I saw you do. Again, blessings~
    Hugs,
    Shellie

  • Bonnie Grossman says:

    Pat, I remember the former interview with Charlie Gibson well. Look forward to this one. The mutual admiration is evident. And I’ve loved you both for years.

    I’m pretty sure that integrity is something you can’t fake for the camera. You and Charlie have it; the Kardashians don’t.

  • Patricia Shannon Yeager says:

    Just as I love your books, I always love your interviews. This is a great one.

    Pat Yeager
    Alexandria, Va.

  • Neda Tobin says:

    Good Morning America is how I’ve “woken up” each weekday since the David Hartman days. When David retired in 1987 and Charlie took over, I believed him to be as kind, warm, gracious and intelligent as his predecessor, and it makes my heart smile to know that he is that person and doesn’t just play one on TV!

    I was introduced to your work when I saw the film “Conrack” while still in high school. It inspired me to want to be an elementary school teacher, which is something I still aspire to despite my blessed yet different career path. A few years ago I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Jon Voight and the first thing I told him was that he starred in one of my all-time favorite movies. I think he expected to hear me say “Midnight Cowboy” or “Deliverance”, so when I said “Conrack”, he grinned from ear to ear and said it was one of his favorites as well.

    You’re scheduled to be in Nashville tomorrow and I’m thrilled that my friend Robin and I will be seeing you in person for the very first time. Your writing is one of the commonalities of our friendship and we’ve both waited for this moment for what feels like a lifetime. Not knowing that you were going to be in town for the release of “The Death of Santini”, I had pre-ordered two signed copies from an online bookstore, planning to gift one to Robin. Therefore I hope you don’t mind personally signing my copy of “Beach Music” or “South of Broad”.

    Thank you for furthering my love of reading and for instilling in me a passion for the coastal communities of South Carolina where I hope to make a home one day. On a final note, I wish you could write your books as fast as I can read them!

  • The Cult of South Carolina sounds great. Every location in every book should strive for cult status. The first time I thought ‘cult’ was a University of Oregon english class named “Yeats And Joyce” where the professor showed his slide shows of Ireland.

    I like your cult much better, and not because the University of South Carolina is ‘the real USC.’

    By naming the books and authors you left Rizzoli’s with, along with the poet on staff, you show a better grasp on social media than most experts. That’s a reward in itself.

    Sorry to hear about your neuropathy. I was with friends recently where we talked about younger days of running and throwing and thinking nothing of it. That you push physical boundaries along with everything else shows the sort character those who don’t know you hope for.

    Tough times don’t last, but tough people do, and we all like the real deal in real life. Neuropathy is a flame thrower and Pat Conroy walks in the fire. Born athletes always meet the challenge.

  • Craig Ranagan says:

    Dear Pat, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed a number of your books, but I suppose “The Great Santini” may be my favorite. My Dad also was a Marine Corps fighter pilot. He flew in the South Pacific during the 2nd World War. Fortunately, unlike you, his relationship with his large family, while sometimes tumultuous, thankfully he never exhibited the cruelty your father was capable of. I’m fairly certain that your writings are popular not because of any misspent feelings for poor Pat Conroy while he was growing up, but because, what you lived through was readily identifiable to so many. I look forward to this new Santini, that’s on the horizon… Craig

  • Happy Birthday. It is also my son’s birthday. I have read all your books and met you in Columbia with your teammate Doug Bridges. I have enjoyed your talks and readings at the Humanities Council Literary Festival in Columbia the last two years. Look forward to seeing you again next Spring. Will tune In tomorrow for the interview.

  • Sue says:

    I feel as if I should know you. I was a local girl in high school in Charleston in the mid 1960′s. I knew and dated a couple of Citadel Cadets as did some of my friends. Several of my classmates attended The Citadel after high school. I did not know until recently that you actually graduated from The Citadel with a Cadet that I dated briefly and others that were friends at the time. Between the one or two cadets I dated and the ones my friends dated I am sure we must have at least one mutual acquaintance. Every time I read an article about you it brings back found memories of those days. Your books have been a pure delight to read. Keep up the great work.

  • Tim Doke says:

    Happy birthday, Mr. C! And you nailed Charlie perfectly. Just set the DVR to record GMA tomorrow. Can’t wait to read ‘Santini’ — saving it for my Thanksgiving week at a beach house we’re renting just outside Charleston.

  • Pat Nichols says:

    Dear Pat ~
    When I read a book of yours in Carolina settings, I feel the coastal breeze, smell the wonderful brackish marshes and taste the salt. The measure of writing for me as a former weekly newspaper columnist was whether or not I experienced joy, grief, happiness or sadness with a piece I might have written, and whether or not my audience experienced the same. I have that same measure for those whose writings I treasure. For a reader to ‘feel’ what you, the writer feels, stands you tall in that reader’s eyes. I am that reader. I have all your books except the last, and have put that along with your wife’s novel on my Christmas list from my three daughters. There are so many stories around us all. Thank you for sharing yours with the rest of us. Blessings to you! [Formerly of Allendale, now of Barnwell, SC]

  • Pat Nichols says:

    P.S…..and hope you have had a wonderful birthday!!!

  • Mary L Farley says:

    I love your books and any writing. I would like to read your thoughts on aging. I sense you are experiencing it when you talk about your nimble past. I look forward to reading your latest book. Thanks!!!

  • Sandy Traub says:

    Thank you for big and tender moments, translated to words so intimately intertwined and picturesque that allows masses of readers to travel through the paths of your emotions and realities as though bosom pals. Signed, country gal in Savannah GA

  • Emma Ford says:

    Pat Conroy’s are always so delicious, like waiting for the most rare bite of some rare sea creature, my mouth waters in anticipation. I eat up every bite.

  • Vonda Coy says:

    I honestly think if you were to rewrite the phone book, I would fall in love with the prose. Thank you, dearest Conroy; you make my reading life worth living.

  • Donna Campos says:

    I met you a few years ago when you did a book signing in Charlotte–Stood in line for 4 hrs, but it was so worth it. You could have left early because the store had closed, but you graciously stayed for all of us who had to work that day. I asked you to sign my book on the Daufuskie Island picture and you took the time to ask why there? You so special as a writer and a gentleman.

  • Caroline Heyward Jenkins says:

    Of all your works, I believe Losing Season is my favorite. Why I could more closely identify with that one is beyond me because I am not at all athletic and have never been on a team of any kind. I have known of you, perhaps, for many more years than most of your readers. I worked for the school superintendent, Mr. McCracken, when you taught on Daufuskie Island! He pegged you right from the start – he believed that you had taken that job so you could write a book about it! My next personal bit of trivia concerns you driving the kids to school every day and being late almost every single day! My sister, Anne Trybalski, was the kindergarten teacher at Mossy Oaks Elementary and I believe your step daughter was in her class and you drove her and several other kindergarteners to school. The children always had a note, giving outrageous excuses for their tardiness and always signed by you. She said that they were laugh out loud notes! I wish that she had saved them. Anyhow, I missed the Charlie Gibson interview and here I go now to try and find it online!

  • Nydia says:

    Happy Birthday! I have never read any of your books. I saw you this morning on tv with Mr Gibson. I was having breakfast and tears started flowing as I heard about your realtionship with your father. As a daughter of a highly intelligent man who physically and mentally abused all of his children (9) and his loyal wife, I felt your pain of never been told once, “I love you”. As I was growing up, one of my sisters and I would fight over who would be the first to write “the BOOK”, LOL. Luckily, she hasn’t. I don’t know if I could bear to have all the atrocities out there for everyone to see. We were forced to keep every thing private, that I still feel like I need to not open that time of my life. KUDOS to you, that you were able to write about it.

  • Gaye McCoy says:

    Such a lovely story about two magnifient men…Bravo!

  • Shawn says:

    I am waiting patiently for the signed copy of Death of Santini I pre- ordered on Barnes and Noble’s website in August, one for me and one for my fellow English teacher here in Athens, GA. Reading and watching everything online about the book, while I wait, impatiently. So glad to come across the interview. You both seem like such genuine men, glad to see you are friends. :) . I read somewhere your next book will be about Atlanta. Is this true? I read Gone With the Wind after reading My Reading Life, it really changed my life. Thanks for all you write and share with us!

  • Robin Lightner says:

    It is easy to see the warm regard and mutual respect you and Charlie Gibson have for one another. It makes watching the two of you a great interview experience. I watched Charlie for years, it’s nice to hear that he is the kind, intelligent, down to earth person he has always seemed to be.

    You have been my favorite author for many, many years. I have always thought of you as a kindred spirit, having had some similar happenings in our lives, the kind most people can’t imagine. (Have I got a funeral story for you!) The way you are able to express the raw emotion of your troubled past and the participants in it is nothing short of brilliant. I find myself grateful that you survived to share your brilliance. And grateful that I survived to be so moved by it, even if sometimes painfully so. I am thrilled to say that Tuesday night my friend Neda and I had the extreme pleasure of attending your discussion/book signing in Nashville and you were nothing less than delightful. I cannot adequately express how thoroughly I enjoyed listening to you speak and share stories while on stage with Ann Patchett. I experienced laughter, tears…and joy at my good fortune to be in that audience. I could have listened to you speak for hours and hours. You were also very engaging and gracious during the signing. You asked me what I do and I told you I work in the music business. What I should have added is that in this business we often get to meet artists and sadly there are times when some of them, whose work you have loved for years and we’re excited to meet, turn out to be…well, let’s just say less than nice. You were the exact opposite! Kind, accommodating and fun. Thank you so much for choosing to be in Nashville on the 29th, the day The Death of Santini was released. What an honor, and an evening many of us won’t soon forget. I cannot wait to lose myself in the pages of your latest masterpiece. Please don’t ever stop writing! And please DO come back and spend some quality time getting to know our quality city. I believe you will find a love for it just as I have for your beloved Lowcountry, one of my favorite places on earth. I promise we are not all hillbillies. : )

  • Ritagail B. says:

    Birthday Blessings!

    God “accidentally” allowed me to see part of your interview where you said that you told your Mom that you needed to try to make sense of things one more time.

    Yes.

    Thank you for modeling that creative people need to do that. Too many times everyone around us tells us we can’t do that, or, at the very least, people don’t understand the need for it.

    Blessings and Thanks.

  • Melanie Laurence says:

    Thank you Mr.Conroy for your stories. I am a teacher at a rural southern school. Your books have been my friends for a long time. That may sound strange, but whenever I feel land locked and the call of the sea is unbearable I re read them.They bring me great joy. I take them with me when I am able to visit the great southern islands of Georgia. Your descriptions of small island life sustain many of us who feel the pull of the tides in their blood streams. I am teaching my second graders who have never seen an ocean about tides and the moon this month. I read to them some of your descriptions to help them understand what it feels like to be a part of the wonders they may never experience. Not in the curriculum, but I don’t know of a better way to help them experience the joy of words that can take you to places you may never see.

  • A belated Happy Birthday, Mr. Conroy. I just finished reading The Death of Santini. I am still digesting its mix of themes. The greatest theme,that we are called to as Christians, is reconciliation, and yet, it has sadly failed in several cases in your life. I cast no censure here, as I am dealing with situations requiring reconciliation myself.

    Mental illness as a result of abuse is well documented. But the damage done by the silence imposed on those of us growing up inside the “Fortress” has been a relatively recent revelation. Your family suffered from this silence, shame and guilt, as did mine.

    The Irish-American theme is harder for me to relate to other than as a thread in American literature. I am a first generation American, with Scottish-Australian-English roots.

    The warrior theme I lived and breathed, longer than you did, because I married it. Twice. And I saw what war does to a child. Re-entry is difficult for everyone. Afterburners stay hot for a long time. Years, in fact.

    I will continue to reflect on the book. At this point, I found it both uplifting, and profoundly sad.

    Love,
    Your Brat Buddy Darlene Weaver
    P.S. the Army Ain’t Sissies, Bud!

  • JoAnne Conroy says:

    Happy Birthday Pat. I can’t imagine how difficult and exhausting a rode trip must be at any age, but I’m thrilled we’ll see you in the Chicago area Nov. 7th. My sister Jamie and I have always had a special affinity for you as a writer of rare compassion and depth, and as a fellow Conroy- a spiritual cousin we relate to on many levels. I’m an art teacher, but more drawn to literature than any other art form, due in part to your writing.
    Thank you for your unflinching and courageous storytelling.

  • Cathy Capogna says:

    I so wish you would come someplace near Michigan sometime. I have been reading your books since “The Prince of Tides” came out, then went back and read the ones I had missed. “Beach Music” is my favorite novel and I find your writing inspirational in its beauty. Actually, my family does come to Fripp Island every other year in October for a short family gathering of those of us of baby boomer age. We love it there. Last visit I met a friend of yours, Tom Mikell, who is a friend of our cousin who owns a condo on Fripp. I would love to meet you sometime, but am content to know you will continue to fascinate and enlighten the reading public with your classic and unique stories. You are someone I cherish without ever having met you.

  • Debi D says:

    My friends and I will be praying for you to get relief from your neuropathy. May God richly bless you and yours. Thanks for being “You”. D.D.

  • Cee Cee Kaylor says:

    You are my favorite author ever! I have read all your books & re-read So of Broad several times. Your characters are unforgettable. Thank you for another book to look forward to reading during our cold winters in Indiana. I heard you speak in Michigan years ago & that started me on my Pat Conroy journey for life! God bless you!

  • Dawn Hadler says:

    Happy Birthday, Pat!
    I thought of adressing you as Mr. Conroy, but I think of you as someone I’ve known for years. I read “The Prince of Tides”, when I lived in KS after a tour in the Army. It was then that I began my dream of living in low country. It was then that I became a lifetime fan of your writing. When I visited my husband’s sister in Raleigh, NC a couple years later, I convinced my husband to take a scenic route back to Kansas detouring to Charleston. We fell in love with low country, went back to KS, put the house on the market (which sold in 10 days) and headed towards the Atlantic to began our initiation into “cult” membership. I have been here ever since.
    We met about two years later when I visited Beaufort, I had a vision in my mind and I just had to satisfy my curiosity. You were signing books at a bookstore on the main drag. God, I was so excited to meet you! I had you sign a first edition of The Prince of Tides, that I purchased at that particular store; and made sure you knew that you were the reason I had moved to Charleston. I still think that I was one of many that joined this exodus to the land of Conroy. I’m considered a “Damn Yankee” as opposed to just a Yankee (which I really am, hailing from Massachusetts) As, I’m sure you know: a “Damn Yankee” is a Yankee that visits and never goes back home.
    There aren’t too many native Charlestonians living in Charleston anymore. In fact, last Monday I went to a sports bar with my friend to watch the Patriots/Carolina football game and met several people from New England…we were the majority as was evidence by the cheers and moans of my fellow sportsfans. A good friend who grew up in West Ashley “when 61 was still a dirt road” still apologizes to me when he talks about that Yankee so-and-so! I might have been here for 20 years but he’s been here for 50.
    I so enjoy reading your Blog entries. Your literary “voice”, always comes through as inviting and genuine as your books and movies. This one has been one of my favorites, since it included two of my favorite older gentlemen and role models in my life. I grew up with Charlie and GMA. Listening to his voice was like a friendly hug to start my day and my coffee still doesn’t taste quite right. I’d love to hug him back, just once!
    I am happy to see your new book. I’ve always thanked the literary gods for allowing you to write as you explore the catharsis of your family history and trauma. However unfortunate that your muse was such a monster, your readers rejoiced at your choosing to share your words and cleverly piece together many of your own experiences. This has been long awaited. I pray that you find peace in the joy you have brought to so many readers as you teased us along your journey! Much Love.

  • Mary McMahon says:

    Hey Pat,

    I just wrote a LONG e-mail to you on your blog, discovering it when typed in Carol Ann Conroy to check on your sister’s poetry books. Don’t know why it doesn’t appear here. I hope you discover it. I wonder why your blog would appear in two different places. Oh well … if you find it, just e-mail me and say, Hey, Mary I read your e-mail.

    Thanks Pat!

  • Elaine Pollack says:

    Pat:

    I am an avid reader and you are my favorite author. It takes me a long time to read your novels because I reread many sentences and passages which are so beautifully expressed. (It took me three months to devour “Beach Music.”) I have read them all except “The Great Santini” which I am currently enjoying. “The Death of Santini” is waiting for me to start turning its pages as well as “My Reading Life.” I purchased all three of them with a holiday Amazon gift card. Belated Happy Birthday. Stay well and keep on writing those treasures. :-)

  • Beverly Ward says:

    I am an avid reader but had never even heard of you until my book club declared February “Pat Conroy Month”. I chose “The Death of Santini”. This book is about MY family! It gave me a whole new insight into my family relationships. Thank you!

  • J.P. Cunningham says:

    The best t.v. journalists (and there aren’t many of them) are bright, well-read, good persons. Charlie Gibson is one of ‘em. Your comment about South Carolina existing basically as a cult, more than as a place? My great-grandfather Samuel Cunningham made the foolish decision in 1873 to pick up himself and his wife and three kids from Laurens, SC and to move to Lawrence Co. in NE Arkansas. That winter, he died, leaving his widow stuck in the middle of nowhere with two surviving children, including the new man-of-the-house W.A. Cunningham, at the age of seven. I’ve written some already about the depth of my background in SC, with our piece of the Cunningham clan having lived in Laurens, SC since the 18th century. “A cult”? To me, that poor decision of moving away from western SC in 1873 was a mistake, but gave a strong woman a chance to prove just how strong she was (and in my mind still is). Anyhow…enough.
    J.P. Cunningham, author of “Somerset: a novel” and of “The Emerald Amulet”

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