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A Lowcountry Heart
Cover of A Lowcountry Heart
A Lowcountry Heart
Reflections on a Writing Life
Final words and heartfelt remembrances from bestselling author Pat Conroy take center stage in this winning nonfiction collection, supplemented by touching pieces from Conroy's many friends.
This new volume of Pat Conroy's nonfiction brings together some of the most charming interviews, magazine articles, speeches, and letters from his long literary career, many of them addressed directly to his readers with his habitual greeting, "Hey, out there." Ranging across diverse subjects, such as favorite recent reads, the challenge of staying motivated to exercise, and processing the loss of dear friends, Conroy's eminently memorable pieces offer a unique window into the life of a true titan of Southern writing.
With a beautiful introduction from his widow, novelist Cassandra King, A Lowcountry Heart also honors Conroy's legacy and the innumerable lives he touched. Finally, the collection turns to remembrances of "The Great Conroy," as he is lovingly titled by friends, and concludes with a eulogy. The inarguable power of Conroy's work resonates throughout A Lowcountry Heart, and his influence promises to endure.
This moving tribute is sure to be a cherished keepsake for any true Conroy fan and remain a lasting monument to one of the best-loved masters of contemporary American letters.
Praise for A Lowcountry Heart
"A fascinating look into the mind of one of the South's greatest authors . . . something to remember him by and cherish for years to come."The Clarion-Ledger
"Fans of Conroy . . . will relish the chance to spend more time with him in this glowing valedictory to his life and writing . . . Eloquent, folksy, and sometimes brutally honest."Publishers Weekly
"A moving and proper tribute to a true Southern icon."The Florida Times-Union
"Elegant essays [that] will not disappoint."—The Washington Post
"Resplendent . . . As always, his storytelling, word choice and rhythm are gorgeous, almost lyrical."USA Today
Final words and heartfelt remembrances from bestselling author Pat Conroy take center stage in this winning nonfiction collection, supplemented by touching pieces from Conroy's many friends.
This new volume of Pat Conroy's nonfiction brings together some of the most charming interviews, magazine articles, speeches, and letters from his long literary career, many of them addressed directly to his readers with his habitual greeting, "Hey, out there." Ranging across diverse subjects, such as favorite recent reads, the challenge of staying motivated to exercise, and processing the loss of dear friends, Conroy's eminently memorable pieces offer a unique window into the life of a true titan of Southern writing.
With a beautiful introduction from his widow, novelist Cassandra King, A Lowcountry Heart also honors Conroy's legacy and the innumerable lives he touched. Finally, the collection turns to remembrances of "The Great Conroy," as he is lovingly titled by friends, and concludes with a eulogy. The inarguable power of Conroy's work resonates throughout A Lowcountry Heart, and his influence promises to endure.
This moving tribute is sure to be a cherished keepsake for any true Conroy fan and remain a lasting monument to one of the best-loved masters of contemporary American letters.
Praise for A Lowcountry Heart
"A fascinating look into the mind of one of the South's greatest authors . . . something to remember him by and cherish for years to come."The Clarion-Ledger
"Fans of Conroy . . . will relish the chance to spend more time with him in this glowing valedictory to his life and writing . . . Eloquent, folksy, and sometimes brutally honest."Publishers Weekly
"A moving and proper tribute to a true Southern icon."The Florida Times-Union
"Elegant essays [that] will not disappoint."—The Washington Post
"Resplendent . . . As always, his storytelling, word choice and rhythm are gorgeous, almost lyrical."USA Today
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Excerpts-
  • From the book Introduction

    Pat Conroy and I met in 1995, several months before his fiftieth birthday. Being a year older than he was, I had already passed that milestone. Pat would later write that he never imagined a man and woman in their fifties could fall in love and build a happy, prolific life together. In our youthobsessed society, we are conditioned to believe that our best years are behind us. Instead, Pat and I found that our fifties and sixties were a time of great joy, productivity, and contentment. We were looking forward to sharing our seventies together, with new books under way and at least a couple more waiting in the wings. After an exhausting but exhilarating weekendlong festival celebrating Pat's seventieth birthday in October of 2015, he settled down to finish the new novel he had started. Life was good.

    Pat was always happiest when he was writing, when he lost himself in the narrative that overtook him and flowed from his pen onto the pages of the yellow legal pads he used for his books. His musings, critiques, observations, and meditations he was more likely to write in his journals, which are also full of bits and pieces of stories he hoped to use one day. Pat collected stories like others might collect rare stamps, or a library of illustrious music. Hearing a good story filled him with great excitement. Afterward, he was apt to grab a pen and say to the teller, "Consider that story stolen. If you plan to write it one day, you'd better do it first."

    Story was the way Pat connected with his readers. They couldn't seem to get enough of his stories, nor could he get enough of theirs. His readers wrote him long, heartrending letters about how they related to his writings, and the various ways his life story paralleled and validated theirs. He read them all, and would have answered each letter had he been able to do so. For a long time, Pat resisted and scorned modern technology, with its e-mails and blogs and tweets and twitters. Only when he realized that he could connect with more of his readers through the marvel of technology did he give in. Most of the works in this collection come from the blog he began to write when he was between books, when his health began to fail and he couldn't travel as much. He called his blog posts "letters," and came to embrace them as what he called "a nightmare for someone who never learned to type, and in other ways an opening to the light."

    The "light" Pat was referring to was his bread and butter, the connection he made with others that brought him not only such great joy, but also such great material. It was the way he collected the stories he would turn into the books that his readers clamored for, the ones that mirrored their own experiences and gave them a voice for the first time in their lives. It was Pat's winning ways that made the connection happen. His interest in everyone he met was palpable, so intense that it was impossible to resist. I should know; I experienced it the first time I met him, at a writers' conference in Birmingham, Alabama. Before I knew what was happening, I had fallen under his spell, as I was to witness so many others do in the years to come.

    When our first meeting was over, Pat Conroy knew a lot more about me than I ever intended to tell him. I'm notoriously closemouthed and private; so much so that he would later nickname me Helen Keller. Not only were Helen Keller and I both native Alabamians, he said, but like my namesake, I saw nothing, heard nothing, said nothing. I would also learn that this was typical Conroy humor, though I didn't think it funny at the time. Pat could make the deaf hear and the mute speak. Sweeping you up in a conversation, with those...
About the Author-
  • Pat Conroy (1945–2016) was the author of The Boo, The Water Is Wide, The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline, The Prince of Tides, Beach Music, The Pat Conroy Cookbook: Recipes of My Life, My Losing Season, South of Broad, My Reading Life, and The Death of Santini.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    September 26, 2016
    Fans of Conroy (1945–2016) will relish the chance to spend more time with him in this glowing valedictory to his life and writing, and those who have never read his books may very well be enticed to do so after reading this vibrant, charming collection of blog posts, interviews, essays, and speeches from the last years of his life. Conroy’s intelligence and curiosity about life and literature blossom forth in entries that are eloquent, folksy, and sometimes brutally honest. As many readers will know, he experienced his share of hardships, vividly reflected in novels such as The Great Santini and The Lords of Discipline. But a painful past clearly never hardened him, and his exuberance for so many things shines through in the entries reproduced here: his passion for books, reading, and language; his love for friends, both old and new; his delight in the beauty of South Carolina; his reverence for teaching and teachers; and his gratitude for being a writer and for the connections he has forged because of it. In particular, he enthuses generously and gregariously about fellow writers. “Great love” was his blog sign off, and that love was clearly returned by those who knew him, as evidenced by the moving reminiscences about him included in the book, such as an introduction by his wife, author Cassandra King.

  • Kirkus

    A collection of blog entries by the late, beloved novelist, along with a miscellany of speeches, interviews, and writings by and about him.When Conroy (The Death of Santini, 2013, etc.) died on March 4, 2016, he was apparently less than 200 pages into his next novel, not enough for an editor or collaborator to complete for posthumous publication. The best of this celebratory volume serves his memory well, showing why legions of fans and fellow writers felt so strongly about him. As fellow Southern writer Rick Bragg notes, in one of the few pieces by others that merit inclusion, "I just know he was different from others at the top of his craft, different in his generosity." That generosity of spirit and conversational engagement permeate Conroy's writing here, even more than they do his novels. Where other writers merely endure book tours, he plainly enjoyed the chance to meet his readers, to hear their stories, and occasionally even connect with someone from his past. "If any writer in this country has collected as fine and passionate a group of readers as I have," he writes, "they're fortunate and lucky beyond anyone's imagination." Each woman he describes is more beautiful and irresistible and finer in character than the last. His fellow writers humble him with how bold and prolific and eloquent and insightful they are. His great teachers imparted lessons he has never forgotten. His friends were friends for life. He frequently returns to the topic of "Carol, my beloved sister," who quit speaking to him after she felt he violated her privacy in his fiction. Though he considered the word "blog" to be "the ugliest word to emerge out of the 'wired' universe so far," he thrived within its open-letter format, beginning most with "Hey, out there," and concluding "Great love...." These hold together in a long first section, making the second section feel padded with odds and ends. Pleasant last words from a highly regarded author who loved his life. COPYRIGHT(1) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    Starred review from November 15, 2016

    Conroy, whose work includes The Great Santini, The Prince of Tides, and Beach Music, had a fulfilling life as a writer. After his death in 2016, his widow, the novelist Cassandra King, started gathering the best of the interviews, magazine articles, speeches, and letters from his career, here creating a collection of the author's reflections. This book also provides a note to readers by Nan A. Talese (Conroy's longtime editor), an introduction by King, in addition to remembrances by Bernie Schein, Rick Bragg, and Judge Alex Sanders. The resulting anthology offers an intimate look at the novelist's literary friendships and love of the South Carolina lowcountry he called home. Devoted fans will understand the sometimes difficult path he chose, and new readers will appreciate a life well lived. VERDICT Conroy's style is always accessible, lively, and heartfelt. This book is a worthy memorial--filled with love, humor, and great stories.--Pam Kingsbury, Univ. of North Alabama, Florence

    Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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