Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Fascinating "Reading Life"

My Reading Life
by Pat Conroy
New York : Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, c2010.

"In a reading life, one thing leads to another in a circle of accident and chance."

Taking a quote from the final chapter in Conroy's book was the closest I could come to describing the book itself. I suppose it's most accurate to call this a book of vignettes, all tied to the reading, writing, and most of all life of Pat Conroy, all three of which are closely related for him as he makes clear in this collection.

I came to this book having never read Conroy's fiction, or in fact any other book he's ever written. I found an author interview in a magazine that intrigued me, so I put the book on my list to read. I picked it up ready to rush through - enjoy, of course, but read quickly - because it was due back at the library soonest, and I love books about books. But Conroy wouldn't let me rush. I read quickly, yes, but because I had chunks of time here and there and I put aside my other reading to make time for this, because each part of his story wanted me to give my full attention. Every sentence wanted to be considered. One essay made me cry, another made me laugh, and I had to wait before I read the next so that I could separate them out and give each its due. Conroy made me want to pick up War and Peace to read right now, and maybe to add Military Brats by Mary Edwards Wertsch to my list of books to check out from the library. He made me want to read at least one of his novels to see if I like his fiction as well as his nonfiction. I thoroughly enjoyed this glimpse of his love for literature, for story, and for language.

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