Reading Matters

Looking forward: Two biographies of Pat Conroy

Pat Conroy
Pat Conroy Deep South Magazine


If we can’t have Pat Conroy back in the world, alive and healthy, perhaps two forthcoming biographies will offer some comfort.

One is an oral biography culled from more than 200 hours of telephone interviews over several months with novelist Katherine Clark (“All the Governor’s Men”) of Birmingham.

Months ago, Conroy wrote on his blog, “I lack all gifts of reticence or caution, and every time Katherine relates some outrageous or libelous quote from the book, I wince, then swear I never said such a thing.” But, oops, Katherine has it all on tape. Her book is due in the spring of 2017.

The other biography – also unauthorized – is by Catherine Seltzer, who teaches women’s studies at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. She is the author of the recent “Understanding Pat Conroy” and a critical study of the works of novelist and short story writer Elizabeth Spencer.

Did Conroy mind an unauthorized version of his life? Of course not.

“I told Catherine,” he wrote on his blog, “that if she didn’t include the unexpurgated memories of my friends and enemies, ex-wives and girlfriends, hostile critics and others who have reason to renounce my career and life as a complete failure, her book would be worthless. ... I required her to tell the life story I wasn’t aware I lived or the one I was ashamed of living.”