The Death of Santini instantly reminded me of the decadent pleasures of [Conroy's] language, of his promiscuous gift for metaphor and of his ability, in the finest passages of his fiction, to make the love, hurt or terror a protagonist feels seem to be the only emotion the world could possibly have room for, the rightful center of the trembling universe.... Conroy’s conviction pulls you fleetly through the book, as does the potency of his bond with his family, no matter their sins, their discord, their shortcomings.
Frank Bruni - New York Times
Despite the inherently bleak nature of so much of this material, Conroy has fashioned a memoir that is vital, large-hearted and often raucously funny. The result is an act of hard-won forgiveness, a deeply considered meditation on the impossibly complex nature of families and a valuable contribution to the literature of fathers and sons.
Conroy remains a brilliant storyteller, a master of sarcasm, and a hallucinatory stylist whose obsession with the impress of the past on the present binds him to Southern literary tradition.
Conroy has the reflective ability that comes only with age. He has a deeper understanding of his father and the havoc he brought to his family.…But against the backdrop of ugliness and pain, Conroy also describes a certain kind of love, even forgiveness.
Conroy writes athletically and beautifully, slicing through painful memories like a point guard splitting the defense….It is a fast but wrenching read, filled with madness and abuse, big-hearted description and snarky sibling dialogue—all as Conroy comes to terms with what he calls "the weird-ass ruffled strangeness of the Conroy family."
Minneapolis Star Tribune
A heady, irresistible confusion of love and hate, "one more night flight into the immortal darkness to study that house of pain one more time," to prove how low his princes and princesses of Tides can sink and how high they can soar. True Conroy fans wouldn’t have it any other way.
In several of his 12 previous books, bestseller Conroy mined his brutal South Carolina childhood—most directly in the book that became a 1979 hit movie, The Great Santini, about a violent fighter pilot and his defiant son. In this memoir, the 68-year-old sheds the fictional veil, taking "one more night flight into the immortal darkness to study that house of pain a final time." The result is a painful, lyrical, addictive read that his fans won’t want to miss. (3.5 stars out of 4.)
While the intent may have been to paint a more honest picture of his parents, Conroy only shows himself to be insecure about the legacy of his books.... [and this one is] rendered in histrionic sappy prose. In the end his picture of the Conroy clan is one of deeply flawed people convinced the world is against them.
In spite of the pain and cruelty [in his growing up years], there was forgiveness, and a mature friendship was realized between Conroy and his father before the latter’s death. Conroy’s eulogy concludes the book and is a fine summing-up of a compelling and readable portrait of a dysfunctional family.... Conroy’s many fans...will welcome it for its honesty, power, and humor. —Jay Freeman
(Starred review.) In this memoir, Conroy unflinchingly reveals that his father, fighter pilot Donald Conroy, was actually much worse than the abusive Meechum in his novel.... Although his father's fearsome persona never really changed, Conroy learned to forgive.... It's an emotionally difficult journey that should lend fans of Conroy's fiction an insightful back story to his richly imagined characters. The moving true story of an unforgivable father and his unlikely redemption.
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