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Pat Conroy's Memoir 'My Reading Life'

KIM CURTIS   11/ 2/10 03:25 PM ET   AP

Conroy

"My Reading Life" (Doubleday, $25), by Pat Conroy: Best-selling novelist Pat Conroy doesn't just love books, he devours them. He doesn't just visit libraries and bookstores, he inhabits them. He doesn't enjoy language, he revels in it. He says he learned early on that "great words arranged with cunning and artistry, could change the perceived world for some readers."

Conroy's new memoir, "My Reading Life," isn't simply a filler book presented by his publisher to take up space between novels. Instead, it's a rich, unabashedly self-critical and moving tribute to a writer's passion.

The book contains 15 essays highlighting a different aspect of Conroy's adoration of literature – from "Gone With the Wind" and "War and Peace" to Thomas Wolfe and James Dickey and librarians and sales reps. He takes readers along well-trodden themes of his life: abusive father, much put-upon mother, the American South, military boarding school. But he has the imagination and skill to make it all new again. Like Stephen King did in his remarkable "On Writing," Conroy reminds us of his considerable talents for telling a story and arranging words.

He's also quick to acknowledge what he perceives as his own shortcomings, both as a writer and as a man, and we cannot help but relate to the author – a once lonely and hurt young boy who hasn't yet fully abandoned the grown-up and much-adored man.

When Conroy says, "Writing is the only way I have to explain my own life to myself," we believe him.

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Online:

http://www.patconroy.com/

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Filed by Gabe Habash  |