Publisher/Format: Nan A. Talese (2010), Hardcover, 352 pages
Subject: Reading, books
Source: review copy from the publisher
Pat Conroy has always been one of my favorite authors - I've read everything he ever wrote, and am now determined to re-read all of them again. But nothing he has ever written comes close to being the literary masterpiece this one is IMHO. It's the memoir every bibliophile dreams and lusts after---wishing we could close our eyes and pretend that this was the literary legacy of our past, wishing we could put words together and come up with the luscious, gorgeous, delicious images and thoughts that he does.
When I read books, particularly those I've committed to review for the publisher (as I did with this one) I read with pencil in hand to jot down particularly memorable passages, to make note of special ideas, so I can formulate a somewhat coherent description of what I thought of the book, and not leave out anything important. Had I used this technique with this book I would have simply had to copy the entire thing. Here is just one example of what is so memorable:
"I cheer when a writer stops me in my tracks, forces me to go back and read a sentence again and again, and I find myself thunderstruck, grateful the way readers always are when a writer takes the time to put them on the floor. That's what a good book does---it puts readers on their knees. It makes you want to believe in a world you just read about--the one that will make you feel different about the world you thought you lived in, the world that will never be the same." pg. 329-330.I especially like the fact that he doesn't just concentrate on books however. He spends a great deal of time and effort introducing us to those people who gave him the lifetime gift of books and reading - his mother, his English teacher, a librarian, a bookstore owner, his students. The book is not just a memoir of his reading life - it's a tribute to all those people who molded that life.
This beautiful volume has put him firmly in the ranks of those who hold sway over the reading lives of the rest of us.
Many thanks to Nan Talese and Doubleday for making this review copy available. To enter to win a copy, click on the cover on the left sidebar. Deadline is Saturday Nov 26th.