Reading Matters

Happy 71st birthday, Pat Conroy!

Today is the birthday of the late novelist Pat Conroy. He would’ve been 71.

In a 1994 interview, I asked him if he could rewrite his childhood, or if he could fix his childhood, would he do it, even if it meant he wouldn’t have the wealth of material he had access to for his fiction. He acknowledged that, yes, indeed, he would rewrite his childhood. Then he said this:

“A couple of years ago, I went to the PEN/Faulkner thing, and they said, ‘What are your beginnings?’ I heard Eudora Welty talk about beginnings. And Reynolds Price did this beautiful thing about a goat eating his diaper off, and Eudora saw bees and sunshine, and somebody had poured honey into her milk bottle over her mother’s breast. I’m hearng all this, and I felt like I had ruined the entire thing. Because what it was was first memories that you had, and my first memory was my mother trying to stab my father with a butcher knife. I’m telling you. And Dad laughing, and hitting her in the face. And here it was: ‘Welcome to the world, Pat. Welcome to your childhood.’”

Rest in peace, Pat.