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Monday, August 21, 2017

#Random Review: The Great Santini

Book Title: The Great Santini

Author: Pat Conroy

Reviewed By: Gordon P.

Pat Conroy uses The Great Santini to describe a year of his youth, growing up in South Carolina when his father, the real-life "Great Santini" was stationed there in the Marine Corps in the 1960s. A contemporary reader may be shocked by some of the "politically incorrect" or at least incredibly dated references to blacks and other minorities as well as the role of women. While some of this was probably a reflection of the real-life man (Conroy's father) and the time period, it is still remarkably jarring today.

"Bull" Meechum is a Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel who moves his family to South Carolina for a job as a fighter plane squadron commander in the days shortly before the Cuban Missile Crisis. The book itself is really more a collection of vignettes than a traditional story - most any chapter could be taken by itself or removed without having much effect on the rest of the book.

For anyone who has spent any time in the military, there are plenty of moments in the story that will resonate and bring either a chuckle or a sign of dread as the well-known scenarios unfold.

Any parent will probably cringe at many of the things Bull does with and to his family. In some respects it is almost a 'how to' guide for how NOT to parent.

Conroy is a brilliant writer, and his descriptions of people and place are brilliant and efficient. One can almost see, smell and hear the places he describes, even in just a few words. His writing is an excellent example of writing for atmosphere and place. In a few places, I found myself re-reading a page simply because the language was so well done - not flowery or effusive, but just so 'right.'

I'd recommend this to anyone who enjoys good writing or is interested in family dynamics or military fiction.

Find The Great Santini in our catalog.

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