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The Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy
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's review
Jan 02, 2008

it was amazing
Recommended for: E V E R Y O N E!!!
Read in January, 2008

This would be the 3rd unforgettable book I've read by Mr. Conroy in the past year, and to date. I just love reading his work. There is no other way to put it. He just simply writes, in my humble opinion, the most beautiful sentences I have ever read. He has an unflinching capacity to be so brutally honest it often hurts. But it is the greatest pain one can recieve from a great novel. The amount of passion, pain, and pure adrenaline within the pages of this book will not let the reader put this one down. I promise!
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Quotes George Liked

Pat Conroy
“I will take you down my own avenue of remembrance, which winds among the hazards and shadows of my single year as a plebe. I cannot come to this story in full voice. I want to speak for the boys who were violated by this school, the ones who left ashamed and broken and dishonored, who departed from the Institute with wounds and bitter grievances. I want also to speak for the triumphant boys who took everything the system could throw at them, endured every torment and excess, and survived the ordeal of the freshman year with a feeling of transformation and achievement that they never had felt before and would never know again with such clarity and elation.

I will speak from my memory- my memory- a memory that is all refracting light slanting through prisms and dreams, a shifting, troubled riot of electrons charged with pain and wonder. My memory often seems like a city of exiled poets afire with the astonishment of language, each believing in the integrity of his own witness, each with a separate version of culture and history, and the divine essentional fire that is poetry itself.

But i will try to isolate that one lonely singer who gathered the fragments of my plebe year and set the screams to music. For many years, I have refused to listen as his obsessive voice narrated the malignant litany of crimes against my boyhood. We isolate those poets who cause us the greatest pain; we silence them in any way we can. I have never allowed this furious dissident the courtesy of my full attention. His poems are songs for the dead to me. Something dies in me every time I hear his low, courageous voice calling to me from the solitude of his exile. He has always known that someday I would have to listen to his story, that I would have to deal with the truth or falsity of his witness. He has always known that someday I must take full responsibility for his creation and that, in finally listening to him, I would be sounding the darkest fathoms of myself. I will write his stories now as he shouts them to me. I will listen to him and listen to myself. I will get it all down.

Yet the laws of recall are subject to distortion and alienation. Memory is a trick, and I have lied so often to myself about my own role and the role of others that I am not sure I can recognize the truth about those days. But I have come to believe in the unconscious integrity of lies. I want to record even them. Somewhere in the immensity of the lie the truth gleams like the pure, light-glazed bones of an extinct angel. Hidden in the enormous falsity of my story is the truth for all of us who began at the Institute in 1963, and for all who survived to become her sons. I write my own truth, in my own time, in my own way, and take full responsibility for its mistakes and slanders. Even the lies are part of my truth.

I return to the city of memory, to the city of exiled poets. I approach the one whose back is turned to me. He is frail and timorous and angry. His head is shaved and he fears the judgment of regiments. He will always be a victim, always a plebe. I tap him on the shoulder.
"Begin," I command.
"It was the beginning of 1963," he begins, and I know he will not stop until the story has ended.”
Pat Conroy, The Lords of Discipline

Reading Progress

02/08 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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Cheryl S. Glad to see you're still loving Conroy. If I have a dream in life I will never achieve it's to write one sentense and have it sing like his work.

message 2: by Ngaire (new)

Ngaire I love Lords of Discipline. So good. And according to a colleague who attended The Citadel - frighteningly accurate too.

George I know! That book was amazing. Yeah, I can't even imagine what that would be like. I don't think it's an easy school to get into either.

message 4: by Mitch (new)

Mitch White George, your review was amazing! I read South of Broad last year and was so heartbroken by the time it was over. The story still haunts me. Your comment about his writing style and story telling is so true. Now I find myself torn between reading Lords of Discipline or Prince of Tides next. Help or guidance?

George Read Prince of Tides first, then Lords of Discipline... They are both better than South of Broad. Also read Beach Music, which is perhaps his greatest work of all. Enjoy!

message 6: by Wkh (new) - rated it 4 stars

Wkh Conroy's love for Charleston really shows in his books, and you can tell that he really knows the city. His ability to describe every detail is captivating and is one of the best features about this book.

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