Pat Conroy, bestselling US author of the Prince of Tides, dies aged 70

Novellist who had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer died at his home in South Carolina among family

Pat Conroy, the author of the Prince of Tides and other bestsellers, who drew upon his bruise childhood to become one of Americas most popular storytellers, has died. He was 70.

Conroy, who announced last month that he had pancreatic cancer, died at home among family and loved onesin Beaufort, South Carolina, according to his publisher. The writer had combated other health problems in recent years, including diabetes, high blood pressure and a fail liver.

The water is wide and he has now passed over, his wife , novelist Cassandra Conroy, said in a statement from publisher Doubleday.

Funeral arrangings were still being made.

Few contemporary authors seemed more knowable to their readers over than Conroy. An openly personal novelist, he candidly and expansively shared details of growing up as a military brat and his anguished relationship with his abusive parent, Marine aviator and military hero Donald Conroy. He also wrote of his time in military school and his battles with his health and depression.

The reason I write is to explain my life to myself, Conroy said in a 1986 interview. Ive also discovered that when I do, Im explaining other peoples lives to them.

His books sold more than 20 m copies worldwide, but for much of his youth he squatted in the shadow of Donald Conroy, who thundered out of the sky in black-winged fighter planes, every inch of him a deity of war, as Pat Conroy would recollect. The writer was the eldest of 7 children in a family constantly moving from base to base, a life readers and moviegoers would learn well from The Great Santini as a novel and film, which starred Robert Duvall as the relentless and violent patriarch.

The 1976 novel initially enraged Conroys family, but the movie three years later induced such any suggestions on his father that he claimed credit for boosting Duvalls career( The actor had already appeared in two Godfather movies ), saying, The poor guy got a role with some meat on it.

The book also helped bring about peace between parent and son.

I grew up detesting my father, Conroy told after his father died in 1998. It was the great amaze of my life, after the book “re coming out”, what an extraordinary human had raised me. The writer would reflect at length on his relationship with his father in the 2013 memoir The Death of Santini.

The Prince of Tides, published in 1986, secured Conroy a wide audience, selling more than 5m copies despite patchy reviews for its narrative of a former football player from South Carolina with a traumatic past and the New York psychiatrist who attempts to help him.

Inflation is the order of the day. The characters do too much, feel too much, suffer too much, eat too much, signify too much and, above all, talk too much, told The Los Angeles Times Book Review.

But Conroy focused on the advice he once got from the finest novelist I ever encountered , novelist James Dickey, who taught him at the University of South Carolina.

He told me to write everything I did with all the passion and all the power you could muster, Conroy recollected. Dont worry about how long it takes or how long it is when youre done. You know, he was right.

The Prince of Tides was induced into a reach 1991 film starring Nick Nolte and Barbra Streisand, who also produced and directed it. Conroy worked on the screenplay and shared an Oscar nomination, one of 7 Oscar nominations it earned, including best picture.

Conroys much-anticipated Beach Music, published in 1995, was a best-seller that took nine years to complete. Conroy had been working on The Prince of Tides screenplay, but he also endured a divorce, depression, back surgery and the suicide of his youngest brother.

Pat Conroys other books included South of Broad, set in Charlestons historic district, and My Reading Life, a collection of essays that chronicled his lifelong passion for literature.

He was born Donald Patrick Conroy on 26 October, 1945.

Following graduation in 1967, he worked as a high school teacher in Beaufort.

For a year he taught poor children on isolated Daufuskie Island , not far from the resort of Hilton Head. The experience was the basis for his 1972 volume, The Water is Wide, which brought him a National Endowment for the Arts award and was induced into the movie Conrack.

Conroy was married three times and had two daughters. Although he lived around the world, he always considered South Carolina his home.

Make this university, this nation, yourself and your family proud, Conroy told University of South Carolina alumnus in a 1997 commencement speech.

If you have a little luck, any luck at all, if you do it right, theres a great prospect you can teach the whole world how to dance.

Fans of Conroy took to social media to express their regret at his death.

Judy Bowman (@ tiberjudy) March 5, 2016

“Baseball fans love numbers. They love to swirl them around their mouths like Bordeaux wine.” Rest in peace, Pat Conroy

Patti Vickers Bond (@ whitesangria) March 5, 2016

So very sad over the loss of Pat Conroy. His love of language, household, food and the South burned so brightly in his work.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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