Stephen's Reviews > The Great Santini

The Great Santini by Pat Conroy
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's review
Sep 10, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: books-read-in-2012, and-saw-the-movie
Read from June 07 to September 10, 2012

I enjoyed this unevenly crafted coming of age tale of growing up in the south in the 60's. On one level this is an examination of one family's struggle to love a "hard to love" father who never learned to show the love he so obviously had for his children. On another level, I think that this book is just Pat Conroy's way of making some money off the therapy work he so obviously needed.

In the early chapters its made clear why this maverick fighter pilot is hated but as the story continues, and despite the man's unchanging nature, the reader's perception changes; until, by the end, you do understand the love his children bear him. It might be Stockholm syndrome, it might be genetics and the biological imperative, it might just be conforming to outsiders expectations.

Whatever it is, the book is a continually interesting read that gives a portait of a period in time that is now gone and a type of individual that is rare today.

Fighter pilots, (like surgeons) are professional that require a different than normal mind-set in order to be excellent at what they do. Their different style of thinking is something that most others will never be comfortable with but when the chips are down, these are people that we need. The real tragedy in the Bull Meecham story, apart from the damage that this type of personality has on his family, is that Bull never really saw much combat in later life. He was a rare type of individual that sacrificed much to become what he was at a time when he was never called upon to fully BE what he became.

In my opening I mentioned that this book was unevenly crafted. How else can one explain the usage of such words as: obstreperously (noisy, clamorous, or boisterous), cuglion (stupid, cattle headed fellow), grizzle-demundy (stupid person - always grinning), slubberdegullion (a slobbering or dirty fellow, a worthless sloven) and the somewhat overobvious, somewhat uninspired sentence "Ben Meechum awoke fully awake."
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