Friday, January 21, 2011

I Love What I'm Reading

Every once in a while, one of those books comes along worth savoring, worth dragging out for far longer than it should take to complete. I'm three fourths into one of those books now; My Reading Life by Pat Conroy is just beautiful. It's funny, quirky, smart, and not at all short on emotion.

In one particularly touching essay, "On Being a Military Brat," Conroy recalls his abusive relationship with his father, a fighter pilot in the U.S. Armed Forces. He discusses not only what it was like to be uprooted constantly and deal with abuse, but also how his father was reformed and learned to love in his later years. The end of the essay is especially touching, as he explains his vision and his dream of hosting a parade of "military brats" just like himself with armed forces fathers lined up in the stands saluting those brats' "service" to America. His mother, and the kids alike, always felt that they were part of the military just as much as the father and served America by being true to one of its protectors and constant in their devotion and service.

While I'm not a military brat myself, and I can't relate to the lack of belonging Conroy discusses in the essay, it was just unbelievably powerful. Here's a snippet about the parade he imagines:
To the ancient beat of drums we could pass by those erect and silent rows of fathers. What a fearful word "father" is to so many of us, but not on this day, when the marchers keep perfect step and the command for "eyes right" roars through our disciplined ranks and we turn to face our fathers in that crowd of warriors.

In this parade these men would understand the nature and the value of their children's sacrifice for the first time. Our fathers would stand at rigid attention. Then they would begin to salute us, one by one, and in that salute, that one sign of recognition, of acknowledgment, they would thank us for the first time. They would be thanking their own children for their fortitude and courage and generosity and long suffering, for enduring a military childhood.
And now off to read some more...

16 comments:

  1. I'm really looking forward to reading this one.

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  2. This does sound like a must read. As a military brat, I can understand the sentiment that wives and children served right along side the soldiers.

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  3. I absolutely loved this book! Conroy had me in tears several times. I'm sure you'll love the rest of it too.

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  4. If I had seen this but 3 hours ago, I would have started it instead of Karen Abbott's new one, about Gypsy Rose Lee. I will try to remember to read it next. It sounds wonderful!

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  5. You have me pondering if I love books I want to savor more or books I want to consume as much as I can as quickly as possible. Regardless, enjoy your read!

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  6. I agree with Literary Feline about feeling like I was serving in the military too. Seems not many people realize how much spouses and children also sacrifice when a parent serves. Looks like I'll have to bump this one up on my reading list. Great review!

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  7. Oh man you make me jealous. It has been a while since I have read a book worth savoring...

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  8. If you liked "On Being a Military Brat," you might want to check out the first documentary about being a "military brat" at www.bratsfilm.com! It was produced by Brats Without Borders, and narrated by Kris Kristofferson, in an attempt to raise the awareness of the gifts and challenges of growing up in a military family.

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  9. I am glad you are liking this so much. I plan to read it at some point and time!

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  10. I've read Beach Music (one of my Top Ten books EVER), The Great Santini (fair), and South of Broad (very good) and now I really, really, want to read this one. I almost bought it during our employee sale, but I think I'll wait and snag it when it comes out in paperback. I don't have to own it right away. I'm just glad to hear it's a winner.

    You can search for my reviews on my blog. I'm too lazy to link to them tonight. :)

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  11. Oh it sounds good! Can't wait to hear your final thoughts on this one.

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  12. It is fantabulous, Kathy!

    Wendy, it was a really beautiful essay. I think maybe my favorite from the whole collection. There were others that were more obviously bookish, but it was just so powerfully written.

    Same here, iubookgirl! It was fantastic, especially the final essay.

    Heatheroo, happy birthday today! And I will definitely remind you to read this one next if you need me to. I think you would loooove it. :D

    Carrie, either one is a powerful reaction, for sure. THe urge to savor a book is usually more surprising for me since I'm often frustrated by how slowly I read.

    Enjoy it when you get around to it, Amy. I've never read anything else of Conroy's, but I certainly will now!

    Trisha, this might be the book!!! :D

    Thanks for the rec, dlsbusiness.

    I hope you like it as much as I have when you get to it, Kailana.

    Can't wait to read your reviews, Les. I'm going to look right this minute.

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  13. Iliana, I finished it last night and it was just perfect!

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  14. *sigh* You talked me into it.

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  15. Ooooh, I'm glad this was so good. Maybe I'll actually read my copy now. :)

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  16. Oooh. I have heard so many great things about this book. I'm glad to hear that you are enjoying it tooo! I think that this one might just be my next purchase.

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