Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My Reading Life by Pat Conroy an Okra Pick

From Goodreads: Bestselling author Pat Conroy acknowledges the books that have shaped him and celebrates the profound effect reading has had on his life. Pat Conroy, the beloved American storyteller, is also a vora­cious reader. He has for years kept a notebook in which he notes words or phrases, just from a love of language. But read­ing for him is not simply a pleasure to be enjoyed in off-hours or a source of inspiration for his own writing. It would hardly be an exaggeration to claim that reading has saved his life, and if not his life then surely his sanity. In My Life in Books, Conroy revisits a life of passionate reading. He includes wonderful anecdotes from his school days, mov­ing accounts of how reading pulled him through dark times, and even lists of books that particularly influenced him at vari­ous stages of his life, including grammar school, high school, and college.

I wanted to love this one because I love Pat Conroy but, unfortunately, I didn't. I was not able to reconcile what I expect from Conroy - a novel - with what this was - essays. I hold myself to blame for that. I needed to read more slowly, to let one story finish and be done before I started the next one, but I just couldn't stop myself from plowing through so then the disconnectedness felt more acute. Each story is meant to be savored on it's own; there are stories set here in Beaufort, others in Atlanta, even Paris, there are stories from his childhood, his years as a young author, and anecdotes about his later years, but I wanted them all to be connected in a more linear way and that's not the way this book is laid out. It didn't help that I haven't read most of the books that greatly influenced Conroy's life - Gone with the Wind - no, War and Peace - no, anything by James Dickey (haven't even heard of James Dickey!) - no, Look, Homeward Angel - no,no, no - it just goes on and on highlighting my lack of literary knowledge! So in the words of George Kastanza, "It's not you, Pat, it's me." (And yes, I fully expect next year, some ambitions blogger will host a Pat Conroy My Reading Life Challenge - I can see it coming!)

This book is an Okra Picks and counts towards the challenge being hosted by Kathy at Bermudaonion. By reading just this one book, I acheive the level of Goober!


bermudaonion said...

The reviews seem to be mixed on this one. I'll change my approach to reading this one after your review, and hopefully I'll enjoy it more than you did.

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