I woke this morning to the news that Pat Conroy has passed away.
I had the honor of meeting Pat last September, at the Decatur Book Festival, where our mutual agent introduced us. He was just as charming in person as he is on the page–one of those people who is so much bigger than you are and yet who in just a few minutes can make you feel as if, in his mind, you are the special one.
I’m remembering him this morning through a few quotes that will continue to inspire and move me, though their writer is gone:
A story untold could be the one that kills you. – from Beach Music
Books are living things and their task lies in their vows of silence. You touch them as they quiver with a divine pleasure. You read them and they fall asleep to happy dreams for the next 10 years. If you do them the favor of understanding them, of taking in their portions of grief and wisdom, then they settle down in contented residence in your heart. – from My Reading Life
“You get a little moody sometimes but I think that’s because you like to read. People that like to read are always a little fucked up.”– from The Prince of Tides
Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey. – from The Prince of Tides
No story is a straight line. The geometry of a human life is too imperfect and complex, too distorted by the laughter of time and the bewildering intricacies of fate to admit the straight line into its system of laws. – from Beach Music
And this last one comes from My Losing Season. Pat shares it as advice he received from his English professor, John Doyle, when he was a student and a young aspiring writer:
“Do you think that Hemingway knew he was a writer at twenty years old? No, he did not. Or Fitzgerald, or Wolfe. This is a difficult concept to grasp. Hemingway didn’t know he was Ernest Hemingway when he was a young man. Faulkner didn’t know he was William Faulkner. But they had to take the first step. They had to call themselves writers. That is the first revolutionary act a writer has to make. It takes courage. But it’s necessary, Mr. Conroy.”
Pat Conroy will certainly live on in his words. I am saddened that there will be no more.