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The Great Santini by Pat Conroy
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The Great Santini (original 1976; edition 1987)

by Pat Conroy

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1,449335,171 (4)61
Member:ogzy97
Title:The Great Santini
Authors:Pat Conroy
Info:Bantam (1987), Edition: 6th ptg., Mass Market Paperback, 448 pages
Collections:Read in 2013
Rating:****
Tags:None

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The Great Santini by Pat Conroy (1976)

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» See also 61 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
Enjoyed parts of this book but found Conroy's use of language overly florid and too many parts of the novel were poorly integrated. Many of the characters are stereotypes or charicatures. Overall, I was disappointed with the book. I expected it to be more of a worthwhile read since the book had been made into a movie (I've not seen it). I think the movie might possibly be better than the book... ( )
  Cricket856 | Jan 25, 2016 |
Lt. Col. "Bull" Meecham is a Marine pilot who worships God and the Marine Corp with the latter taking priority. He is a no-nonsense Marine harsh disciplinarian who manages his wife and four children in a similar manner as he does his squadron he currently commands in Ravanel, S.C., which includes surprise inspections and impromptu war games.

This novel is also a coming of age story about Ben, the eldest child in the Meecham familly, a high school senior who has moved so many times in the military that he doesn't know the meaning of home. Both Bull and Ben find it difficulty expressing love with each other.

Pat Conroy's use of the English language is so beautiful, that I have heard some describing it as being "musical." The characters in this quasi-autobiography, especially Bull; Ben; Lillian, Bull's wife: and Mary Ann, the eldest sister, are multifaceted. One has to peel back the layers to see what motivates each of them. My emotional response to Bull ranged from hatred, pity, admiration, love, etc. similar to those expressed by the family members probably because my father reminded me somewhat of Bull. I highly recommend this novel as a fine example of Southern literature. ( )
  John_Warner | Jan 19, 2016 |

***SPOILERS***

This was a heartbreaking book to read. Knowing that it was based on Pat Conroy's own childhood made it that much more morose.

Bull Meechum is a mean man. He sets out to hurt others, and if he isn't successful doing it with words, he will do it physically. I kept looking for a redemption here. In books like this, where difficult relationships are portrayed, there is a moral, allegory, metaphor, something that the reader takes away with them at the last page. I searched and searched for such a quality in this one and could come up with only one thing: this was a purge for Conroy.

With that said, I despised this man. His antics at the beginning of the book with the cream of mushroom soup set up his maturity level, and everyone knows that a pubescent boy has no self-control. That is what Bull was mentally: a surly, spoiled, over-compensating teenager. To find abuse of new recruits a form of entertainment is sad enough, but to intentionally get your son drunk on his birthday over his objections, yell taunts at him during basketball games, and run "military exercises" in your home with a real sword is just over the top.

Likewise, I found the wife willfully weak and enabling. She was a strong Southern woman one minute, and lamenting to the verge of whining about what her life used to be, and what it had become. The excuses she made for her husband's bad behavior were infuriating and the fact that she didn't protect her children was inexcusable the next. I agonized over the children and the lasting effects the verbal and physical abuse would have on their lives.

The ending frustrated and annoyed me. I wanted Bull to live into old age, to become ineffectual and to see himself replaced with the next generation of Marine. Likewise, I wanted to see his children leave home and never look back. To have him die just after the prime of his life was beyond the pale for me, and robbed me of any redeeming value of the novel.

It is well written, and easy to read. However, feeling that this is merely a publishing of a document that Conroy's therapist may have had him write as part of therapy, I can't recommend it. ( )
  CarmenMilligan | Jan 18, 2016 |
Lt Col Bull Meecham is a Marine fighter pilot – No – he is the GREATEST Marine Fighter Pilot. Just ask his family or any of the men serving under him. This novel gives us a glimpse of one Marine’s family. Lillian is the gentle, Southern-born wife who tempers her husband’s erratic drive with a cool, steady demeanor. She is the buffer between Bull and their children. But as their first-born, Ben, moves toward high school graduation, he is increasingly at odds with his father. No matter how he excels – at sports or academics – it is never good enough to please the Colonel.

I really disliked Bull and yet I really liked the novel. Conroy completely drew me into this dysfunctional family and their complicated relationships. I loved the way he gave us insight into his characters by showing us examples of their strengths and weaknesses: Ben one-on-one against his father shooting baskets in the driveway; Mary Anne masking her pain with a smart retort; Bull coming to Ben’s defense against the town bullies; Lillian pleading with Ben to bring his father home.

As much as I disliked Bull, I grew to love Ben. He is a sensitive boy, growing to manhood, and he is able to glean the good lessons from his father – loyalty to your family and friends, championing the weak, hard work and never giving up – and recognize the poor example as well, vowing to never be like his father in those ways.

The person I was most infuriated with was Lillian. Her blind devotion to the man she married – or the man she hoped he was – drove me crazy. Even when confronted with specific evidence she refused to see how harmful Bull’s behavior was to her and her children.

I have had Pat Conroy on my reading radar for a long time, but never read any of his novels before this. I’m certain this won’t be my last Conroy work.
( )
  BookConcierge | Jan 13, 2016 |
For how much I looked forward to reading this, I really had a hard time getting through it. I liked the humor in the back and forth between siblings, but I felt that overall, this book was just a bore. I will not let that keep me from reading more Conroy because I so thoroughly enjoyed the others I have read. Think I'll watch the movie. ( )
  ER1116 | Jan 13, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Conroy, Patprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hazenberg, AnneliesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the Finnish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Tämä kirja on omistettu
rakkaudella ja kiitoksin Frances "Peggy" Conroylle,
äideistä ja opettajista suurimmalle,
ja eversti Donald Conroylle, evp., isistä
ja merijalkaväen lentäjistä suurimmalle.
First words
In the Cordova hotel, near the docks of Barcelona, fourteen Marine Corps fighter pilots from the aircraft carrier Forrestal were throwing an obstreperously spirited going away party for Lieutenant Colonel Bull Meecham, the executive officer of their carrier based squadron.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553381555, Paperback)

Step into the powerhouse life of Bull Meecham. He’s all Marine—fighter pilot, king of the clouds, and absolute ruler of his family. Lillian is his wife—beautiful, southern-bred, with a core of velvet steel. Without her cool head, her kids would be in real trouble. Ben is the oldest, a born athlete whose best never satisfies the big man. Ben’s got to stand up, even fight back, against a father who doesn’t give in—not to his men, not to his wife, and certainly not to his son. Bull Meecham is undoubtedly Pat Conroy’s most explosive character—a man you should hate, but a man you will love.

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(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:31 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Marine pilot Bull Meecham's stern and unyielding personality challenges his southern-bred gentle wife and his top athlete son to stand up and fight back against the hard knocks of life.

(summary from another edition)

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