Wednesday, November 06, 2013

On Rereading My Reading Life by Pat Conroy

For the second time this fall, I have reread a book that I read within the past two years. Both were memoirs. Rereading is something I have done very little of in my life, as there are so many books still to read. This time the book was My Reading Life by Pat Conroy. Much was familiar, of course, but just like when I see a movie a second time, I noticed parts of the story that I had previously missed.

For instance, I did not recall Conroy discussing the lives of military children as a category, though he was one obviously. I met bunches of "military brats" when I went to college. As a elementary school student before that, I met many children of oilfield industry employees who were transferred into and out of my town. They were much like military children. What he says of military kids and I would add any children who frequently move rings true. What jumps out at me now, however, is a statement relating to the children who have always lived in one town. I found this on page 191:
When I was a child, my heart used to sink at every new move or new set of orders. By necessity, I became an expert at spotting outsiders. All through my youth I was grateful for unpopular children. In their unhappiness, I saw my chance for rescue… 
I guess every book has something to which the reader relates, and I found mine in this statement. It was a revelation. With one important exception, my closest friends were all boys who moved into town between fifth grade and high school, not the ones who had always been there. In the outsider, I think Conroy has described someone much like who I was. And the new kids were my chance of rescue, too. It is funny that I only realized this now, many years later.

Maybe I should reread memoirs more often.

I reread for the sake of attending a book discussion. Since several members of our book group are devoted Pat Conroy reader, one even brought an autographed copy, the discussion was particularly lively.

Conroy, Pat. My Reading Life. Doubleday, 2010. 337p. ISBN 9780385533577.

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