Conrack Gone- Pat Conroy Remembered

 

When I read of Pat Conroy’s death, I prayed it was not so. In my continued prayers since learning of his diagnosis with pancreatic cancer, I imagined Pat fit, healthy, and miraculously healed by the prayers of his well-wishers, readers and fans.

Pat deserved to be well. Pat needed to be at the next book festival, filling literary minds with encouragement, humor, and his painfully honest recollections. The book world could not survive without Pat’s pink-cheeked smirk, wry humor or masterful manipulation of words. Yet, this dark day, we must find a way to do so.

conroywb

Decatur Book Festival

Pat was my author. It’s hard to describe why, or how, he became ‘my’ author. It likely started where every literary love affair begins, in a book. Water is Wide was my first foray into Pat Conroy’s world. It was love at first read. After that, I devoured everything Pat wrote, and attended every reading, festival and signing where I might feast on his opinions, learn a literary trick, hug greatness.

I think a quote from Pat’s My Losing Season- A Memoir describes my feelings best-

“The great teachers fill you up with hope and shower you with a thousand reasons to embrace all aspects of life. I wanted to follow Mr. Monte around for the rest of my life, learning everything he wished to share or impart, but I didn’t know how to ask.”

I had the good fortune of breathing the same air as Pat Conroy many times. So many times in fact, that a few friends asked if I was a Conroy stalker. Every greeting from Pat buckled my knees, and quickened my heart in a fan girl manner that made deep questions on writing, survival, and other important life issues, impossible.

patconroy

Savannah Book Festival

Pat was always patient and gracious despite my goofiness. He laughed when author Mary Hood (who’d witnessed my breathless approach) told me to, “breath” from a nearby signing table at the Savannah Book Festival. He teased me as we took a photo together, making up tales of knowing my mother in high school, and having a great time with her (wink, wink). He greeted my daughter and I at the opening of the Mina and Conroy Fitness Center as if we were long lost family, delivering a peck on the cheek that made me swoon.

conroy2

Mina & Conroy Fitness Center

As a fellow abuse survivor, and writer, Pat represented for me, the hopeful idea that I might someday capture the brutality of my own childhood in a prose that prickled reader’s skin and healed their hearts.

To open a Conroy book is to watch Pat slice a vein, and bleed precisely and eloquently on every page. Pat Conroy was a beacon for the beaten down, a man who reigned over a kingdom of readers with the touch of a healer.

He was my author, and I miss him already.

Blessings for Pat’s loving wife Cassandra, his family & friends,

V.L.
———-
Follow me on Twitter- @RockMemoir
Like my Facebook page-http://www.facebook.com/vlbrunskill
Buy Waving Backwards for Kindle $4.99 at Amazon.com- amazon.com/author/vlbrunskill
Waving Backwards book trailer-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_ufjmq0l-U

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where Books Meet Brawn- Author Pat Conroy Opens Fitness Center

What does one wear to the grand opening of a fitness center? Sweatpants? A tidy leotard and tights? Perhaps in ordinary circumstances,  but this was the opening of an extraordinary venue by an extraordinary man.

It was a literary event. In attendance wMinaConroy_Logo-300x300ere a smorgasbord of smart folks, some lean, some (like myself) a tad round due to countless hours spent sitting, suffering and searching for inspired prose.  No matter our fitness level or girth, we all held in common a deep adoration of the 69-year-old, southern author at the helm of the proceedings.

On April 3, 2015, I dragged my flabby fiction-writing self to the opening of the Mina & Conroy Fitness center at 832 Paris Avenue in Port Royal, South Carolina.  Pat Conroy, author of such masterful literary works as Beach Music, The Great Santini, South of Broad, The Water is Wide, Prince of Tides, and The Lords of Discipline, co-owns the center with Japan native Mina Truong, his former YMCA trainer.conroy2

Conroy blogged about the healthful inspiration for opening a fitness center in this blog entry, which is written as if Japanese goddess Benzaiten smiled upon on every flowing, hilarious word. Read it, you will be glad you did.

Nestled amid quaint cottage shops on Port Royal’s picturesque Paris Avenue, the studio is a small, but mighty, exercise venue with walls of sparkling new equipment, designed to make even the most stubborn, desk-dwelling author break a sweat.

Pat Conroy and his wife Cassandra King (author of Moonrise, Queen of Broken Hearts, The Same Sweet Girls, The Sunday Wife, and Making Waves) signed books at the party. While studio space was tight, there was nary a complaint, as rapt friends and fans stood in line clutching cute book signing number cards (which were ditched at #42 when crowd control was deemed unnecessary). Apparently, we literary fitness fans are a polite bunch.

In case you’re wondering, I wore a skirt; had two beloved books signed; garnered priceless writing encouragement; and nearly swooned when Pat kissed me on the cheek.

To learn more about the studio, or sign up for a session check out the Mina & Conroy Facebook page, or give them a give them a call (843) 263-0548.

Blessings for a state of supreme literary fitness,

V.L.

——————————————————————
~SAVE THE DATE~
SYP Publishing cordially invites you to the launch party for
Waving Backwards, a Savannah novel by V.L. Brunskill
Imagine not knowing who you are,
until you find yourself in a statue 800-miles from home.
July 10, 2015 6-9PM ET at the Savannah Marriott Riverfront.