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No one who was in Fulton Chapel for the 1995 Oxford Conference for the Book will ever forget the appearance on stage of Pat Conroy, and lined up beside him, his editor, his agent, his publicist, his high school English teacher, and his father, Donald Conroy, the model of LtCol Bull Meechum, or "The Great Santini." The unforgettable moment that caused the audience to gasp, audibly, occured when Pat Conroy mentioned he had an announcement to make, news that made him "very happy," then saying he had just learned that his father -- standing nearby -- was terminally ill with cancer.
Seventeen-plus years later, in conjunction with a brief tour on behalf of his new book, The Death of Santini, Pat Conroy will return to Fulton Chapel on the campus November 1, 2013. Throughout Conroy's distinguished and dynamic writing career -- The Water Is Wide, The Lords of Discipline, My Reading Life, South of Broad, Beach Music, The Prince of Tides, and My Losing Season, among others -- he has often circled back to the love and the demons of his family, where "the ties of blood can both strangle and offer succor." In writing and publishing The Death of Santini, Pat Conroy has said that he "must examine the wreckage one last time."