New York Times, March 5, 2016
Pat Conroy, whose tortured family life and the scenic marshlands of coastal South Carolina served as unending sources of inspiration for his fiction, notably the novels “The Great Santini,” “The Lords of Discipline” and “The Prince of Tides,” died on Friday. He was 70.
His death was confirmed by Todd Doughty, the vice president, executive director of publicity at Doubleday. He said the cause of death was pancreatic cancer.
Mr. Conroy had a brutal childhood. He was dominated by his sadistic father, Donald, a Marine Corps fighter pilot who beat his wife, drilled his seven children military-style to instill discipline and mercilessly abused his sons, first and foremost Pat, his eldest.
His mother, the former Frances Dolores Peek, known as Peg, was a gauzy romantic who denied her impoverished background and read “Gone With the Wind” to Pat at bedtime, casting family members in the starring roles. She taught her children to lie about the physical punishment meted out by their father.
Mr. Conroy mined the people, the places and the trauma of his childhood and young manhood for his thinly fictionalized novels and a series of memoirs that captivated readers with their openly emotional tone, lurid family stories and lush prose that often reached its most affecting, lyrical pitch when evoking the wetlands around Beaufort, S.C.
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