Was your dad in the military? Highly disciplined and expected the same from his family? Was he abusive? Away from home much of the time?
And how about your mom: Was she a social climber? Wwollen up with her own importance? Clinging to the past?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, you'll identify with this family. Conroy's usual themes are present, but with his talent, it always seems new again. His writing plops you down into the heart and souls of the Santinis. His deft phrasing, his quirky outlook on things, and his musical prose, elevate a normal, dysfunctional family into the ranks of 'classic' literature.
I've read it 3 times. At my age, and counting all the other books I want to re-read, I figure I'll have time to read it at least twice more. Thumbs up!
I enjoyed this unevenly crafted coming of age tale of growing up in the south in the 60's. On one level this is an examination of one family's struggle to love a "hard to love" father who never learned to show the love he so obviously had for his children. On another level, I think that this book is just Pat Conroy's way of making some money off the therapy work he so obviously needed.
In the early chapters its made clear why this maverick fighter pilot is hated but as the story continues, and despite the man's unchanging nature, the reader's perception changes; until, by the end, you do understand the love his children bear him. It might be Stockholm syndrome, it might be genetics and the biological imperative, it might just be conforming to outsiders expectations.
Whatever it is, the book is a continually interesting read that gives a portait of a period in time that is now gone and a type of individual that is rare today.
In my opening I mentioned that this book was unevenly crafted. How else can one explain the usage of such words as: obstreperously (noisy, clamorous, or boisterous), cuglion (stupid, cattle headed fellow), grizzle-demundy (stupid person - always grinning), slubberdegullion (a slobbering or dirty fellow, a worthless sloven) and the somewhat overobvious, somewhat uninspired sentence "Ben Meechum awoke fully awake."
A book picked out for my book club - I would have never placed this one on my read list. And even after a rousing discussion with the ladies, I am still not sure how I exactly stand with this one.
Upon beginning the book, I completely despised Bull Meecham - his presence, his attitude and basically just him. I kept telling the boy that I would NEVER live with this man, let alone have four children with him. As the book went on, my feelings for him kept moving to the dark side along with the book. Somewhere just before the end, I decided that I didn't hate the book due to the plot being acceptable - BUT I still hated him.
Then came book club. One of the ladies stands by Pat Conroy and loves everyone of his books. Intrigued, she advised us that this book was autobiographical and the overbearing father that made my feelings boil was in fact based on his own father. Crazy. It is said that because of this book, his family has disbanded and a lot of controversary was made of it.
A book that I would put into the male audience's hands much quicker than the females. A story with a family at the center, women would be intrigued, but beware the man at the center of this family is not one you will fall in love with.
The Great Santini is-in my opinion-Conroy's best work to date. Maybe I can relate because I also had a military dad who demanded respect from his family, but I truly found myself engrossed in the story of a father and son who are so different from one another but not.
Mild-mannered Ben is uprooted (along with wiseass sister Maryanne, their two younger siblings and their mother) when Bull Meechem (aka the Great Santini) returns home and is relocated by the marines. Through the course of the book, we get to see a year in Ben's life, and all the trials and tribulations he must deal with-and how they are so normal for him after years and years of moving. The ending of the book is extremely moving and we see the family come full circle. I didn't think I would be so moved by this particular book, yet I was. It was also interesting because the reader gets a glimpse of Southern life and individuals in the 1960s, and some of the attitudes that prevailed then.
If you want a book you can't put down, choose The Great Santini. I guarantee you won't be disappointed, sportsfans.
Having read Beach Music, South of Broad, & My Losing Season, I was familiar w/Conroy's style. I love the humor & the raw human interaction, but grow weary at times with his use of esoteric language (as if he's trying to earn "extra credit" for inserting over-the-top vocabulary, sort of like Mary Ann in this book).
Step into powerhouse life of Bull Meecham. He's all Marine-fighter pilot, king of the clouds and absolute ruler of his family. He doesn't give in not to his men, not to his wife, and certainly not to his son...
Heard pretty good things about this book, but read a few pages and it really couldn't hold my interest. However, I'm not much a fan of Conroy's work anyways. It seems to be comparable to most of his other work that I've trudged through. So if you like Pat Conroy give it a try, if not...use only if you've run out of Tylenol PM.
Step into the powerhouse life of Bull Meecham. He's all Marine--fighter pilot, king of the clouds, and absolute ruler of his family. Lillian is his wife--beautiful, southern-bred, with a core of velvet steel. Without her cool head, her kids would be in real trouble. Ben is the oldest, a born athlete whose best never satisfies the big man. Ben's got to stand up, even fight back against a father who doesn't give in--not to his men, not to his wife, and certainly not to his son.
Bull Meecham is undoubtedly Pat Conroy's most explosive character--a man you should hate, but a man you wil love.