Best known for his 1986 novel, The Prince of Tides, news of Pat Conroy’s death on Friday, March 4, has left a hole in the hearts of readers everywhere. Though Conroy’s works were often melancholic—based off his own experiences of abuse, loneliness, and life—there’s no denying the almost physical resonance of his words, the intense emotional connection he had with his readers.
Though we say goodbye to this amazing author, his words remain, a plangent understanding of the human condition.
“One of the greatest gifts you can get as a writer is to be born into an unhappy family … I could not have been born into a better one … I don’t have to look very far for melodrama. It’s all right there.” —The Washington Post
“Happiness is an accident of nature, a beautiful and flawless aberration.” —The Lords of Discipline
“The reason I write is to explain my life to myself … I’ve also discovered that when I do, I’m explaining other people’s lives to them.” —from a 1986 interview
“Some things don’t mix. Some things don’t mix at all, but sometimes in life you have to take the risk.” —The Lords of Discipline
“I came from a family of great storytellers. That is something about the South I think has been preserved. The yarn, the story, and the ability to tell one well, is a beloved trait in several of my uncles and aunts. And a great story changes the world for you—changes the way you look at life.” —NPR
“Always believe in things and people that bring you pleasure. What good does it do to throw those things out the window?” —The Great Santini
“I said this to myself and I meant it: / I will not be like them. I will not be like them. / I shall bear witness against them.” —The Lords of Discipline
“I have found life much harder than I thought it was going to be. I’m constantly amazed by how difficult the passage is. You don’t know where it’s going to get you; you make decisions and you can’t know if they’re good or horrible.” —from a 2012 interview
“Teach them the quiet verbs of kindness, to live beyond themselves. Urge them toward excellence, drive them toward gentleness, pull them deep into yourself, pull them upward toward manhood, but softly like an angel arranging clouds.” —The Prince of Tides