Published in 2018, “Our Prince of Scribes, Writers Remember Pat Conroy,” is a compilation of stories and loving memories of Pat Conroy by 67 writers who knew him. It could be called the world’s greatest collection of love letters, but it is so much more than that.
Written by those in his inner circle of friends and family, this book is a peek into the heart and soul of this man, known by his readers only as a gifted wordsmith whose writing we love and books we cherish.
Pat Conroy was the son of a tough, mean-spirited military pilot father and moved often throughout his school-age years. When he landed in the Lowcountry, specifically Beaufort, he was smitten … and never wanted to leave.
And he didn’t. Conroy died in his adopted hometown in March 2016.
To memorialize and immortalize this man who gave so much and whose legacy grows stronger, this book, edited by Nicole Seitz and Jonathan Haupt, was a daunting project. According to Seitz, it was decided “to order the essays loosely by Pat’s own chronology, each of them winding along his story river.”
Well done, beautifully organized, each story is unique and the book is surely destined to be a classic in-demand resource on Conroy’s influence as a mentor and great friend of the literary community, in Beaufort and beyond.
No one, his friends and fellow writers would tell you, loved to tell a story more than Conroy and in turn, listen to your story, so it was natural he became the cheerleader of hopeful, first-time writers. In this book, readers will realize the impact of Conroy and the special friendships formed within the community, including random folks he met along the way.
We see glimpses of Conroy as a young man, a basketball player, a son, a husband, writer, friend and teacher.
Most of us loved Pat Conroy because we read his books, his words stirred us, made us pay attention to the truth of things, inspired us to reach higher, maybe to find the courage to tell our own story.
Conroy’s best-known works are “The Prince of Tides,” “The Great Santini,” “The Lords of Discipline” and “Beach Music.” In his later years, he wrote “The Death of Santini” and “A Lowcountry Heart: Reflections on a Writing Life.”
For fans of Conroy, “Our Prince of Scribes” is a must-have and would make the perfect gift for anyone who appreciates a story that alternately breaks and illuminates your heart, i.e., Southern literature at its best.
Of the book of essays, Haupt said: ” ‘Our Prince of Scribes’ is our collective return of Pat Conroy’s faith in other writers, a giving back of the great love Pat entrusted in each of us represented in this collection and in so many others whose lives he touched and whose hearts he opened with the overarching message of his timeless body of work: you are not alone.”
(Disclosure: I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.)
Glenda Harris of Bluffton is a freelance writer and editor, nature lover and aspiring novelist.