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Talking Volumes
My Losing Season is the Talking Volumes selection for October/November 2002.

AS HEARD ON
Midmorning,
October 22, 2002
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Talking Volumes
November 7, 2002
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RELATED LINKS
"At mid-life, Pat Conroy tries to write his own happy ending" from CNN.com.

"The Story Behind the Book" from the Marly Rusoff site.

Pat Conroy on NPR's Fresh Air.

 

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My Losing Season
Talking Volumes
My Losing Season
By Pat Conroy
Doubleday, 2002
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(From the publisher) As Pat Conroy signed books on tour around the country for his bestselling Beach Music, his Citadel basketball teammates appeares, one by one. His marriage was over, he was alone, and he realized that his team had come back into his life just when he needed them.

In vintage Conroy fashion, My Losing Season vividly reconstructs his senior year at The Citadel, his last year as an athlete, recapturing not only he games of this merciless 1966-1967 season, but also its mark on him: his passage from athlete to the man who would become one of America's most beloved writers.

Against the backdrop of Charleston, South Carolina's most famous military college, Conroy, in memory, gathers his team around him to relive their few triumphs and more humiliating defeats. In a narrative that moves seamlessly between the action of the season and flashbacks into his childhood, we see the author's love of basketball and the crucial role athletics play in the lives of young men as they try to find their own identities and places in the world.

With poignance and humor, Conroy writes about sports, about men among men, and, finally, the truth about the Great Santini. My Losing Season will engage any reader who understands the heartbreaks of a broken childhood and the wonder of a rescued spirit.

About the Author
(From the publisher) Pat Conroy was the first of seven children, born on October 26, 1945 in Atlanta, to a young career military officer from Chicago and a Southern beauty from Alabama. His father was a violent man, whose biggest mistake, Conroy has said, was allowing a novelist to grow up in his household. His father's violence, he says, "is the cental fact of my art and my life."

Pat Conroy
© David Spielman
Conroy changed schools frequently, because the family had to move many times to different military bases around the South. He ended up at the Citadel Military Academy in Beaufort, South Carolina, upon his father's insistence. While still a student, he wrote and published his first book, The Boo, a tribute to a beloved teacher.

After graduation, Conroy taught English in Beaufort. He later married and took a job teaching underprivileged children in a one-room schoolhouse on remote Daufuskie Island, off the South Carolina coast. After a year, Conroy was fired for his unconventional teaching practices—among them his refusal to allow corporal punishment for his students—and for his general lack of respect for the school's administration. Conroy evened the score when he exposed the racism and appalling conditions his students endured with publication of The Water is Wide in 1972. The book won Conroy a humanitarian award from the National Education Association and was made into the feature film Conrack.

After the birth of a daughter, Conroy moved his family to Atlanta, where he wrote the novel The Great Santini, published in 1976. This autobiographical work, also adapted for film, explored the conflicts of his childhood, particularly his confusion over his love and loyalty to an abusive father. The painful exposure of his family secrets brought Conroy to a period of personal desolation. The crisis resulted in his own divorce as well as the divorce of his parents.

The Citadel became the subject of Conroy's next novel, The Lords of Discipline (1980), which exposed the school's harsh military discipline, racism, and sexism. This book was also made into a movie.

Conroy remarried and moved to Rome, where he wrote The Prince of Tides (1986), which became his most successful book—and was also made into a movie. Beach Music (1995), Conroy's sixth book, told the story of Jack McCall, an American who moves to Rome to escape the trauma and painful memory of his wide's suicide in South Carolina.

While on tour for Beach Music, members of Conroy's Citadel basketball team began turning up at book signings. When his wife served him with divorce papers, he realized that his team mates were coming into his life the moment he needed them most. So he began reconstructing his senior year, his last year as an athlete, and the 21 basketball games that changed his life. The result of these recollections, blended with childhood flashbacks and insights into his literary aspirations, is My Losing Season.

Conroy currently lives in Fripp Island, South Carolina, with his wife, novelist Cassandra King.

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