Conroy Center launches new book club

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Beginning in April, the nonprofit Pat Conroy Literary Center will launch a new monthly book club aimed at reading and discussing all 12 of Conroy’s published memoirs and novels in order of publication, from The Boo (1969) to A Lowcountry Heart (2016). Each monthly session will be led by a guest discussion leader familiar with the work, and all meetings will be held at the Conroy Center at 905 Port Republic Street in downtown Beaufort. These events are free, but advance registration is required as seating is limited. Participants are asked to read the selected books before the meetings and to come prepared for the discussion. 

Interested readers can sign up for the monthly book club meetings at patconroyliterarycenter.org.

Held on Tuesday, April 2, the inaugural meeting will be led by novelist John Warley, a Citadel classmate of Conroy’s, as the club discusses, The Boo,self-published in 1969, honoring Pat’s Citadel mentor Lt. Colonel Nugent Courvoisie. 

The Conroy Center Book Club will continue on Thursday, May 16, at 5:30 p.m. with a discussion of The Water Is Wide (1972)Pat’s memoir of his storied year of teaching eighteen students in a two-room schoolhouse on Daufuskie Island, twice adapted for film. The discussion of The Water Is Wide will be led by USC Beaufort assistant professor of English Mollie Barnes, who was a coordinator for USCB’s First-Year Reading Experience programs for The Water Is Widein 2016–17.

On Thursday, June 13, also at 5:30 p.m., Pat’s brother Tim Conroy, a retired educator and published poet, will lead a discussion of The Great Santini, Pat’s autobiographical novel of a larger-than-life USMC fighter pilot and his family, published in 1976 and also adapted for film. 

The Conroy Center Book Club’s July 16, 5:30 p.m., discussion will focus on The Lords of Discipline, Conroy’s second novel, published in 1980, critiquing his military college experience. That discussion will be led by Sean Heuston, professor of English at the Citadel who has taught The Lords of Disciplineto cadets for more than a decade. 

With dates to be announced later in the year, the book club’s August discussion of The Prince of Tides will be helmed by USC Beaufort English professor and writer-in-residence Ellen Malphrus and the club’s September discussion of Beach Music will be led by Lowcountry Weekly publisher and editor Margaret Evans, who was Conroy’s assistant during the writing of that novel. The book club’s discussions of Conroy’s dozen books will continue through March 2020. Thereafter, club participants will help the Conroy Center set the course for a second year of book selections and discussions.   

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