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Pat Conroy comes to Camden

Posted: May 15, 2014 4:58 p.m.
Updated: May 16, 2014 5:00 a.m.
Tenell Felder/C-I

Author Pat Conroy was the guest of honor at a book signing at Books on Broad on Thursday.

Laurie and Bill Funderburk welcomed celebrated author Pat Conroy to their bookstore, Books on Broad, Thursday for a book signing, with a line that extended all the way through the store and out the front door. Laurie Funderburk she and her husband had the opportunity to speak with Conroy at a conference they both attended in New Orleans in October.

Funderburk said Conroy indicated he would be interested in visiting the bookstore and the city of Camden.

“I had tried to get in touch with him through his publisher,” she said, but hadn’t heard anything back. “I hand wrote him a letter, asking him to come here and he personally called the store and (we) arranged (the event).”

In the letter, Funderburk wrote, “I regret having to contact you personally, but it seems this may be the only way! A visit by you to our store and our town would mean a great deal to us -- and I hope enjoyed by you!”

“I’m looking forward to this and have always felt that Camden was one of the world’s magic places,” Conroy said in one of his responding emails. Funderburk said her excitement at having Conroy visit stemmed from the fact that she knew “a lot of folks here love” Conroy. Also, the event would allow Conroy fans the chance to complete their collections of his works, since the store planned to make sure copies of all his books were available for purchase.

Funderburk said he is a great fan of Conroy’s and has heard him speak before.

“He’s an incredible storyteller,” she said. “We are very excited.”

In an email interview through his publicist, Conroy said he has previously visited Camden, calling it “one of the prettiest little towns” in the state.

Conroy’s latest novel, Death of Santini: The Story of a Father and his Son, is a memoir detailing the author’s volatile relationship with his father, Donald Patrick Conroy. Conroy said The Great Santini was a fictionalized account of his coming-of-age with his father and that “The Death of Santini tells the real story, from a more personal and emotional level.”

Conroy also said his latest novel explores the way his relationship with his father altered over the years, and how they reconciled. He said he understood more about why his father acted the way he did, and came to appreciate other qualities -- loyalty and bravery, for example -- that he hadn’t appreciated as a boy.

Finally, Conroy shared that he “really enjoys book signings” and “spends a great deal of time with everyone in line, chatting, asking questions (and) answering theirs.” He said he’s always interested in meeting his readers.


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