How George R.R. Martin made me love Direwolves, Giants, Dwarves and Dragons…

My desk

Hey, out there…

Since I returned home to Beaufort after my book tour was over, I brought part of the tour back to my house with me. I’ve never found myself attracted to the world of fantasy writing, with a few quite notable exceptions. When I lived in Italy, I came under the sway of Italo Cabrino and his books. The Baron in the Trees, the Cloven Viscount, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler and especially Invisible Cities sparked deep ysteries in me. At the same time, I became familiar with the nearly unclassifiable work of Jonathan Carroll who has a narrative voice that can take me places I never knew I needed to go. Ursula Le Guin and Ray Bradbury have brought me many great pleasures and I’ve tried to read as many of the Fairy Tales of world literature as I can. The Arthurian legends have always found a captive audience with me and I read The Once and Future King and few books have ever struck me with the powers of its wondrous imagination. I read it recently and failed to cherish it as I once did and I asked myself if something squirrelly and unappreciative had entered my reading life as I’ve grown older.

I’ve never relished the company of the dystopian novel much, but then I remember Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and that was good enough to shut my mouth for a while. Though I revere much of the writing of Cormac McCarthy, he did not seduce me with The Road. Literary taste is a defining thing in all of us. It is as unpredictable as it is fascinating. I’m as astonished by the work of Jonathan Franzen as I am incapable of reading five pages of Thomas Pynchon. I treasure the works of John Fowles and Ian McEwan and I want to like Martin Amis, but just can’t or don’t. Metafiction sends me running to the hills and always makes me think that I’m not smart enough to understand it. I’m confident enough in myself as a reader to think, “If I can’t understand it, then who the hell can?” The pleasure principle kicks into high gear whenever I pick up a book. Toni Morrison’s prose style is a joy inducing mastery of the language and no one deserves a Nobel Prize more than Alice Munro. Philip Roth is a gift to American letters, but the most celebrated book of the eighties, Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, left me feeling like a beast of burden as I slogged my way toward that infinite finish line. A.S. Byatt’s book Possession grabbed me by the throat and held me in its immense thrall until the very end. I hated everything about J.M. Coatzee’s book Disgrace, but could not deny its power and greatness when I completed it. Ann Rivers Siddons’ Colony made me fall in love with Maine and she’s the most southern  woman I’ve ever met. Ron Rash’s Serena made me think about the North Carolina mountains in a way that Thomas Wolfe never did.

I believe I could write like this forever and not remember half the books that made my time on earth a wonderful place to be. The reading of great books has been a life altering activity to me and, for better or worse, it brought me singing and language-obsessed to that country where I make my living. Except for teaching, I’ve had no other ambition in life than to write books that mattered.

"George R.R. Martin... a writer for the ages..."

All of this is preamble to the fact that I met the most extraordinary American writer while I was in the middle of my tour. His name is George R.R. Martin and I think he is a writer for the ages. Over the past several years, I’ve kept hearing about George R.R. Martin from his readers, who often verge on the edge of possession. But my own form of literary snobbism has kept me from reading him because George writes in a field I encounter with much resistance – he writes in the genre of fantasy, part of the lower pastures of world fiction. Despite my love of Tolkien, Italo Calvino, Jonathan Carroll and Ursula Le Guin, I like to spend my reading time among other writers. I had also known personally one of the great fantasy writers of our time, Robert Jordan, which was the pen name for Jim Irvin, a Citadel graduate who got his degree seven years after I did. Jim and I were taught by the same distinguished English teachers at the Citadel and he blazed an amazing trail with his Wheel of Time series that led some to refer to him as the new Tolkien. I read several books in the series, enjoyed them, but never found myself captured by Jim’s world of fantasy. Yet Jim’s books became number one bestsellers on the New York Times bestseller list every time he came out with a new volume. He died of a very extreme form of cancer in the middle of his prime. But his fantasy required a leap of the imagination I was not prepared to give at that time of my life and I’ve regretted it. The last time I met him I asked him if he knew any other college that had produced two writers who had occupied the number one slot on the NYT list. It seemed a rare distinction. A week later he called me and said he’d researched my question and only Harvard had produced more than two.  Naturally, it was Harvard, but for novels like Love Story and Jurassic Park – none of the Harvard heavyweights like Norman Mailer. I thought John Updike had probably made it, but Jim was too happy with his findings and I let it go.

My friend Katherine Clark was the first full-fledged fanatic of George R.R. Martin that I found and she was relentless on the subject. Katherine had published an Oral Biography of my friend Eugene Walter called Milking the Moon. It’s a one of a kind book that celebrates the life of a quirky unknown writer who lived a fascinating and joy-giving life. I did not meet Katherine until she introduced me before I gave a signing at

George R.R. Martin and Katherine Clark

Page & Palette bookstore in Fairhope, Alabama. We’ve been fast friends since. She is one of the few friends in my life who reads more than I do and her eye is cunning and so far infallible. She went to Harvard then wrote her dissertation on William Faulkner at Emory University. Our friendship is based on the books we’ve read and those we are now writing. Two years ago she started reading George R.R. Martin and I listened as a fanatic was born on the telephone. By then, her good taste was a proven commodity, but I listened to her rapture with growing discomfort. She read his Ice and Fire series of five doorstopping books, then re-read them again to see if they were as good as she originally thought. She found them much better. She started throwing out comparisons to Dante and Shakespeare and I thought that the seafood she was eating from the BP oil spill was starting to affect her brain in Pensacola. One of the things I’ve admired about Katherine is that she can read books by people she hates, and if the writing is good, she will surrender her sword and admit to the book’s excellence. I can do that sometimes, but not often.

“Shakespeare?” I once asked Katherine, mockery in my voice.
“Yes, Shakespeare, Pat. We read the same guy and I think this guy might be better.”
“Do you tell your Harvard friends that? Or just us Citadel boys?”
“I tell all my Harvard friends that they’re just like you – they haven’t read him, either.”
“Magic, direwolves, mammoths, giants, dwarves and dragons. I can’t believe I don’t want to read these books.”
“Read them. Then tell me I’m wrong,” she said.
“That’s a deal. If you quit talking about them,” I said.

As if often does, fate crept into this conversation without either Katherine or me noticing its intrusion. When I first saw my tour schedule, I thought it had been designed by Dante Alighieri. From last October 15 to December 20, I was on the road to push my new book The Death of Santini. It is part of the covenant I sign with Doubleday that I’ll do everything possible to help them sell the book, including not getting drunk on tour or embarrassing my publishing company with my cutting up on the road. I go out to sell books and it has become one of the greatest things about being a writer during my lifetime. No writer should turn down the chance of meeting the readers of his work. I went as far north as Minnesota, as far east as Philadelphia and New York, as far south as Miami and as far west as the Missouri River. But there was one stopover that made no sense to me. In what I thought was a mistake of planning, I saw a two day trip to Santa Fe shoehorned into the dead

George R.R. Martin's restored theater...

middle of my tour and this seemed a couple of states too far for me. I know how daily travel wears me down after a couple of days on the road, and I had no idea why a side trip to Santa Fe was on the list. But when I called my redoubtable publicist Todd Doughty, he explained that it was the home of George R.R. Martin and that George had recently restored an old theater in Santa Fe where he showed classic movies and interviewed authors on stage himself.

“Have you ever heard of George R.R. Martin, Pat?” Todd asked me.
“Is he a good guy, Todd?” I asked.
“He’s a wonderful guy and everyone
who knows him says it’s true,” Todd answered. “Also, he happens to love your books.”
“Ah, my idea of a splendid man, myself.”

Immediately, I called Katherine Clark at her home in Pensacola and said, “I’m going to meet Shakespeare.”
“You’re meeting George R.R. Martin in Santa Fe,” she said into the phone. “I’m coming, too.”
“You were not invited,” I said.
“I’m coming anyway,” she said.

So we did. I bought a copy of A Game of Thrones from Park Road Books in Charlotte and was almost finished with it when I made the first stop of my life in Santa Fe. I woke to the birdsong of an enchanted hill town that looked more European than American. It had a modest but ancient feel to it. I was staying at the Inn of the Six Graces and it was as splendid a small hotel as it could possibly be. My bathroom was a work of art, flashing in colorful shapes of Mexican tile. There were tapestries and weavings hanging from the walls. The adobe walls make the city a muted ode to the color of brown. Because I’m not a great lover of Mexican food, the cuisine of Santa Fe will never find justice with me. I do not like the meals of my city to be cilantro based. But the fault lies in me and not in Santa Fe. It is a city of a thousand art galleries. The paintings seemed  both world class and fearfully overpriced to me, and my heart does not sing when confronted by cowboy and Indian art. I passed by a lot of cowboys cast in bronze and a lot of Indians eyeing them with motionless disdain.

That night we met in a basement of a restaurant. I met George R.R. Martin and he was an easy going, gregarious man who wore a Greek  fisherman’s cap, smiled a lot, and seemed to be taking all his success with a becoming graciousness. By this time, I had finished A Game of Thrones and had found it magnificent.

Todd Daughty (of Doubleday) Pat & George R.R. Martin having fun...

At dinner in Santa Fe, I sat next to George R.R. Martin and found him charming, gregarious, unpretentious and a complete pleasure to be  around. He was so disarmingly nice that I would have expected him to never have published a haiku in his life. He dressed with unstudied simplicity and he wears a Greek fisherman’s hat with all the panache of a Greek fisherman. The restaurant he chose was first rate and I knew it would be from the startling feasts he describes in such luscious detail in his Song of Ice and Fire. He wears his success well, lightly threaded  but perfectly made, and he’s proud of this world he has created out his own eclectic imagination. His long apprentice work in Hollywood taught him how to write great and convincing dialogue. His story telling powers are intoxicating and pitch perfect in their execution. We told each other some stories of our lives and we talked to the people at the table with us. George had no need to dominate, which I found wondrous to behold. His curiosity extended around the table, to the three publicists from Doubleday, Todd Doughty, Alison Rich and Suzanne Herz, to the hero worshipping Katherine Clark (who could barely utter a word in her literary George R.R. thrall). He was that rare kind of celebrity – his success had not seemed to rout the best parts of his nature. His fame had not ruined the boy in him who’d once fallen in love with the fantastic worlds of comic books and science fiction. But the sentence I just wrote limits his achievement and hides it away in a bottle of lesser literary elixirs. I judge him much greater than that.

George R.R. Martin interviewing me

The next night, he interviewed me on the stage of the old, intimate theater he paid good money to restore. It was small and held about 200  people at most, and he and I took up much of the stage that was barely large enough to behead the enemy of the state. George R.R. started the evening off the most surprising way – he began to praise my own novels,  especially The Lords of Discipline and the The Prince of Tides. Several times he talked about my writing about the Citadel and how it influenced him when he wrote about the Northern Wall which protected the Seven Kingdoms from the barbarity of the wildings of the North. The brothers of the Wall, the men of the black, reminded me of the Citadel with my college’s strict codes and military purity. He remembered the black cadet at the Citadel who was helped along by my narrator Will McLean in The Lords of Discipline and it helped shape his portrait of Samwell Tarly, the weakling and keeper of the Crows who is protected by the bastard of Winterfell, Jon Snow. Yes, I could see it and I could also catch the scent of Lord of the Flies. All through his work I catch the echoes of an extremely well-read man and a man whose capacity for learning from other writers seems limitless.

Then George R.R. Martin delivered one of the great valentines of my writing life. He talked about visiting Hawaii for the first time and his wife chastising him for not looking at the spectacular coastline of Hawaii as they drove to their hotel some distance from Honolulu. He told the audience he couldn’t look at that coastline because he was in the middle of reading The Prince of Tides.

You, out there. Listen up.

Generosity is the rarest of qualities in American writers. Before George R.R. Martin told me that in front of eyewitnesses in Santa Fe, no other writer I recall had ever told me something I’d written had influenced them. I don’t think it’s ever happened to me before. I’ve always felt a vague sense of guilt that I search for plunder and inspiration in every book or poem or story I pick up. Other people’s books are treasures when stories emerge in molten ingots that a writer can shape to fit his or her own talents. Magical theft has always played an important part of my own writer’s imagination.

When I first read David Copperfield in Joseph Monte’s English class, the book took full command of my imagination and I longed to write novels in the Dickensian manner; until I was stopped in my tracks that same year by Crime and Punishment and the Brothers Karamazov’?) Down the road, I got Faulknered and Steinbecked, Hemingwayed and Fitzgeralded. In college I was Virginia Woolfed and dazzled by Willa Cather and became a devotee of George Eliot. I don’t know when reading books became the most essential thing about me, but it happened over the years and I found myself the most willing servant of what I considered a rich habit.

A great book took me into worlds where I was never supposed to go. I met men whose lives I wished to make my own and men whom I would  cheerfully kill. Great writers introduced me to women I wanted to marry and women who would make me run for my life. I was raised in a tyrant’s home and my mother had thirteen pregnancies while sleeping in her oppressor’s bed. Let me marry Isabel Archer in Portrait of a Lady and put on my track shoes when I encountered the rise of a Lady Macbeth in my life. But literature is vast and subtle enough to make me fool enough to fall in love with its villains and scoundrels. I’ve a soft spot for Becky Sharpe in my heart and the dry-ice evil of Iago still manages to raise my blood pressure when I dip again into the pages of Othello.

I’ve admired the work of Don DeLillo, but never gave my heart to it, where John Irving found his voice and made me his devotee forever after The World According to Garp. When Gabriel Garcia Marquez is good, there is no one better. I could read Richard Russo forever.

But there I go again. Even as I record this, I’m aware of a hundred writers who filled me with happiness over the years and provided countless pleasures as I read through their books and started to expand with fresh knowledge of the family of man. Some books I took on as self-improvement projects. In sixth grade, under the tutelage of Sister Nathaniel, I decided to read the entire Bible. I thought it would bring me closer to God. It took me three years to complete the project and then my mother was upset that I had read the King James version of the Bible that Grandpa Peek had given me, instead of the Douay Rheims version that was approved by the Catholic Church. By accident, I had read the beautiful Bible and the magisterial rhythms of the King James version are the ones that still move through my bloodstream. In my twenties I read the four volumes of the journals of Andre Gide and everything that Camus ever wrote. I read ten volumes of Balzac, ten by Zola, all by Collette, and I found I preferred the work of Simone de Beauvoir far more than that of her strange lover, Sartre. For some reason, I’d gotten it into my head that the French held the mystery of where all knowledge lay.

So a lifetime passes and I manage to live a life quite badly. I marry three times, help raise four children, have one of them stolen from me, inherit five stepchildren and write the books that have described both the pains and the joys I encountered living that life. Then I arrive on a stage with George R.R. Martin in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in my sixty-eighth year, and encounter a writer whose body of work is completely alien to me. I’ve avoided science fiction most of my life – for the simple reason I didn’t care much about it. Up to now, I’d cared little for the march of imaginary kings in made up lands of yesteryear. Though I’d been one of those “comic book boys” whose heart once sang with the heroics of action heroes, I’d grown up surrounded by Marine Corps fighter pilots whom I thought would make out just fine in battles with Superman and Batman and Spiderman and all the rest. They never quite took me prisoner in my imagination. It might have been my Biblical reading that made me unprepared for the comic book pantheon of heroes. I was not as afraid of Batman beating me up when Lot’s wife was being turned into a pillar of salt for the lightweight crime of looking back at a burning city. So I entered the world of George R.R. Martin tentative and doubtful. But I needed to hush Katherine Clark up and reading the work was the only way to do it.

So, I agreed to a compact to read A Game of Thrones and nothing else if I thus desired. I had not prepared myself for the pure genius of George R.R. Martin. His writing is lush and beautiful and is a perfect fit for his life’s work. His entrance into this exotic and created world of his is confident and shows no sign of hesitation or doubt. He inhabits his world with an ease of creation that seems impossible to imagine. His achievement brings me to a halt – to study the many limitations of my own imagination. The dialogue between his characters is as real and distinct as are those to be found in John Le Carre or Elmore Leonard. His descriptions are first rate and his fiery tale of the birth of dragons is fully equal, if not far more spectacular, than the resurrection of Christ in the New Testament. He writes about religion, wars and gods, men and women, mothers and children, with a pure shiningness that surpasses mere talent. Mr. Martin has to be dealt with in some serious way by the gatekeepers of American fiction. What do The New Yorker, The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, Harper’s, and the Atlantic do about this guy? I’m now finished with A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, and am 300 pages into  A Dance with Dragons. This much reading at least allows me to pour wine for the guests of the great number of his tribe of devotees he’s attracted. I am 4300 pages into the world George R.R. Martin has created and long for 5000 more.

"Standing of the high ground of... literature."

Do I consider it grand entertainment? I certainly do, but I also consider it literature standing on the high ground of our language. His characters spring to life on every page and I’ll take Tyrion, the Imp, over Falstaff any day… take Cersei over Lady Macbeth… take Jon Snow over Hamlet… take Sansa over Cordelia.

Martin has created his own world and it shines with its own set of special constellations, its own comet, its unforgettable citizens, its cold immensity, its bloodthirsty battles, its score settling by the Gods and their rapacious servants among the hideous and beautiful men and women created in their passage… It’s all extraordinary and unlike anything I’ve ever read. A Song of Ice and Fire is not like anything I’ve ever read before. It is American literature thrown at our feet – and for those of us in a love affair with the language, it’s up to us to stretch and broaden our horizons, to bend and welcome it into the Pantheon.

Pat Conroy

20 Responses to How George R.R. Martin made me love Direwolves, Giants, Dwarves and Dragons…

  • Ed Rabel says:

    May I ask you a question, Pat? May I kiss you? Of course, I adore your books and your writing. I have since the day we met at the Citadel for CBS News Sunday Morning. What a treasure, for me, is that story we did about The Lords of Discipline. And, at one moment on the campus a cadet approached you with a copy of your book to be signed. “What’s your name, boy?” you asked. “Cadet John Smith,” he responded. And, as my camera rolled you said to him: “Aren’t you the one who called the Commandant a cocksucker?” After that you had me. By the way, I have a new book coming out in two weeks. It is titled BLACK GOLD, BLACK DEATH: In Coal Country, America’s President is Marked for Assassination. I would be honored if you would read it. All the best! Ed Rabel

  • Cynthia Vargo says:

    How wonderful that some of our best authors are now becoming “bloggers”. Just recently, I was in a group of teachers (here on Guam) and we were talking about how it seemed that it was harder to find books we really wanted to read with the passion of our youth. (Actually, it was in the context of students choosing “good fit” books as part of the Daily 5). Not only do we get to read Pat Conroy between books, but we are introduced to other books and authors who just might be a “good fit” for our reading pleasure. Thank you, Mr. Conroy and Hafa Adai from Guam!

  • Okay, Pat, you’ve sold me. Like you, I’m a hard sell when it comes to this kind of imagining but if you are recommending him, I will give his writings a good ole Georgia try.

  • Philip Lister says:

    I am 840 pages into “A Feast for Crows” I read “The Death of Santini” while I was still reading “A Song of Ice and Fire” Mr. Martin and yourself have the distinction of being so good I want to reread your work. Prince of Tides I’ve read twice and Lord of Discipline as well. Beach Music only once so far.Life is short but spending it inside both of your guys’ books is time well spent.

  • Bryan Gregory says:

    Well, I’ve rarely read such praise, or been given such a reading list, except from your “My Reading Life”. I’ll start today.
    I’ve often told my friends about all Conroy books. Some well-read ones agree with me. Now you blog becomes “must read”. Thanks so much.

  • David Galloway says:

    Martin is the favorite writer of my son and his bandmates. As they travel the country in a bus, they read his volumes, discussing them along the way. Like you, I have resisted the temptation of this genre but you have convinced me to give it a whirl, Thanks, I guess.
    My son, Thomas, was baptized at the Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta. On that day, I offered up a simple prayer that he might become the next great Southern writer. My image was that of you, one of my favorite writers. Having met you through Jane Baird and her brother, Jim. I knew that I must work hard to live up to the dysfunction of the Great Santini in order to form such a creature. Unfortunately, I have discovered that God needs details, specifics. I should have prayed for a novelist but instead got a poet as my son writes chillingly powerful songs. Actually, I am so proud of his writing and plan to send him a copy of this article. Thanks, Pat.
    David Galloway

  • mary donegan says:

    I’ve never read science fiction….only know of ‘Game of Thrones’, because it is filmed in Ireland. Have read all your books, Pat and have now decided to take a couple of George Martin books with me on my transatlantic cruise later this month……..If you love this kind of writing, I’m willing to give it a try.

  • Carolyn Moye says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us while we wait for your next book. I eagerly read any/every word you publish in any form. I am re-reading My Reading Life, and making notes of books to read based on your comments. This blog post is adding fuel to that fire. I am 80 years old, and there are so many books to read! The Death of Santini sits permanently on my living room coffee table where I will reach for it again and again.
    Again, thank you.

  • Carol Howey says:

    I sure wish I had known you were in Santa Fe! I left Beaufort to follow my muse to Taos, NM in 2010. The Prince of Tides is one of the top ten books of my life, and like you, I have devoted a lifetime to books. Reading it for the 4th or 5th time on our trip out here inspired me to take up the keyboard again. If I had seen you in Santa Fe I would have urged you to take a day trip to Taos. It has all of the art, architecture and history of Santa Fe, with the addition of mystery, magic and beauty equal to the Lowcountry.

    Thank you for this piece on Martin. I will be sure to read some of his books, as soon as I get a chance to read to your new one.

  • Sara says:

    It’s Italo CaLVino, and in Italy he’s not considered a fantasy writer at all! Fantasy in Italy is not very well treated. Books (fantasy books, I mean) take years to arrive here and translations are often awful. This is why I had to learn English, to be able to choose among tons of fantasy books and buy them on the internet!!!!
    Sorry, I don’t mean to be rude, but I’m Italian and a fantasy reader. It’s not easy!!!

  • Mary W. Derbyshire says:

    My Godson suggested George R R Martin’s books to me when he saw me reading a science fantasy book. He was in college and I think was surprised that someone his parents age wold read the genre, much less the gritty world Martn has created. The books are so rich in detail, such a tapestry of imagination, that one stands in awe of t the mind that creates it. Just as I am awed by the mind that writes of a mother showing her children sun set and moon rise in tandem in The Prince of Tides; writes so lovingly of Charleston in South of Broad that prose becomes poetry and if you read it aloud (some passages just beg to be given a voice) without intending it the Southern accent becomes more pronounced; yet writes with such anger at the beginning of Death of Santini that it’s hard to continue. That book is hard to read going in, but finishing it leaves the reader with a feeling of having read a love story. My favorite remains Beach Music. I loan books to a few choice friends, one of whom was stunned speechless when she asked to borrow my copy of Beach Music and I promptly replied no. You autographed it for me about 12 or so years ago, a brief exchange but enjoyable. I don’t loan that one, just re-read it every couple of years with the same “wish it would never end” feeling as the first time. You’re the only other person I have known say they like Richard Russo. Isn’t eclectic taste in reading fun?

  • Jan says:

    I’m right about the same place you are in the Ice and Fire series, about 300 pages into Dance of Dragons. I loved reading your words here, I’ve read most of the books you mentioned and mostly agree with your tastes. Enjoyed this post! Never been here before but I believe I shall be back. I’ve also read most of your books, Prince of Tides is one of my all time favorite books. Didn’t realize you have a new one out, I’ll be on the look out for it. I liked a Prayer for Owen Meany better than World According to Garp. I just picked up a Richard Russo book at the thrift store today and now am especially glad I did after you mentioned the author. I just love books. Pardon my disjointed comments. I’m a reader not a writer!

  • Roger D. Stephenson says:

    I have been a voracious reader since I first was taught to read in a small rural school. I read everything from prose and poetry to cereal boxes. By the time I was in the third grade I was given permission to use the high school library and did so with relish. I graduated in ’71 and spent the next nine years as an enlisted Marine, over seven of that based in Beaufort, South Carolina. I learned to love the Low Country and am thankful for the time I spent there.
    The Great Santini introduced me to your writing, inspired me to find your other books and eagerly await the next. My personal favorite remains Beach Music, but I have found joy in all of them and regret finishing the last page of each.
    I too have never been drawn to fantasy writers and have yet to read Tolkien or Rowling just because the premise didn’t appeal. The TV series for Game of Thrones inspired me to read George RR Martin and I am grateful that it did. I too find his writing to be an excellent blend of dialog, adventure, intrigue and insight that the series will never be able to portray.
    I wish you many more years of success. Every single thing you write enriches our lives and I thank you for doing that so very well.

    Roger D. Stephenson

  • bobbi rubin says:

    at the risk of boringly reciting what every one here has said, I have read all your books. they sing to me. love you, love your books — and when is the next one appearing? have also read g r r martin’s masterpieces and also the tv series which is amazing. so pat, have I mentioned how much I love you??

  • Lois Herzog says:

    Thank you for writing with your whole heart and sharing the pain which may not otherwise have been expressed. I pray the confrontation of childhood memories has released you from adult addiction and healed the souls of both you and your “loving?” family. Those of us born in the 1940′s are always ‘dancing’ for our lives. Keep writing. Your gift has been blessed by God. Forgiveness heals the soul.

  • john willis says:

    Mr. Conroy, I am an avid reader and Prince of Tides is far and away my favorite book ever. I finished it in the Miami airport with a group of friends and cried like a 3 year old. I sobbed unashamedly in front of a group of peers hardened by years in the auto business. Anyone that has read this book “has sold his manhood cheap”.

  • Patrick Cornelius says:

    Pat, I am a long time fan since I read ‘The Prince of Tides.’ I marvel at your reading habits. As a late in life writer in training, I try to emulate, but fall far too short of your reading achievements. I am slowed by what a psychiatrist once said was a likely learning disorder. Nonetheless, I am always on the lookout for a good recommendation for the bookshelf.
    Your ‘My Reading Life’ proved an interesting addition to my reading list. I might not otherwise have read ‘Gone With the Wind’ or ‘Anna Karenina.’ Like you, I am also a John Irving fan from the first hilarious chapters of ‘The World According to Garp.’
    When I first came across your blog here about George RR Martin’s ‘Ice and Fire’ series. Like you, I shy away from fantasy genre work, simply because I do not have the time. The amount of reading I do, from Homer to Stephen King, from Faulkner to Cormac McCarthy, just leaves precious little time.
    Well, sometime times are hard for me on a fixed income and when I go to the used bookstore, I occasionally have to chose a hefty tome to see me through the weeks before I can afford another selection. So, I recently chose Mr. Martin’s ‘Game of Thrones,’ your pulsating review of his work in the corner of my mind. What a delight! After at first struggling with the invented names and words and getting used to the genre, there came the sudden misadventure of young Bran and the novel took off at a pace that has yet to yield.
    Yet again, you enrich my life not only as an author I greatly admire, but as a champion of good literature. George RR Martin’s work now fits both categories.

  • Susan McGowan says:

    Like you I have been an avid reader for my entire life. I too was late to the party for fantasy. Your pairing of George Martin’s characters with famous literary characters was spot on. To learn we share common thoughts about books thrilled me. I’m Canadian and was thrilled to see Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood mentioned in your blog. I must add, I read your beautiful eulogy to your friend Tim. My good friend and fellow reader sees your writing the same as your friend Tim did. How I do not understand. My best friend introduced to your book. She was reading Prince of Tides and I hijacked it while we were on vacation. The sunset scene is poetry. Beach Music is on my top ten list of favourite books. I wait for your books. Hoping for a new one led me to this blog. I was terrified when someone’s comment said you might not writer another book. Say it isn’t so…..

  • Patrick Cornelius says:

    I’m now about to finish book five of George RR Martin’s ‘Ice and Fire’ series. Thanks for the recommendation to an awesome reading experience.

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