Pat Conroy is just about the perfect guy to appear at Miami Book fair International: Nobody loves reading more than he. Get him talking about books, and he doesn’t want to stop, whether the subject is William Faulkner ( As I Lay Dying “changed my life”); which Russian novel is greater, War and Peace or Anna Karenina (depends on which he’s read most recently); J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, all of which he devoured as a way of chatting with kids whose parents come to his events (“Those books were so important in the history of reading”) or fellow book-fair presenter Jonathan Franzen’s hyped novel Freedom (“he taps into contemporary life like no writer I have ever read”).
“I read too much. I am the great bore about books,” admits the novelist best known for The Great Santini, The Prince of Tides, The Lords of Discipline and Beach Music. “I’m an addict, and this addiction has been going on a long time. I’m surrounded by books right now. I’m looking at ’em all. I’ve read a lot.”
Conroy will be in the right place at 8 p.m.Thursday at the 27th edition of the fair, which runs through Sunday at Miami Dade College in downtown Miami. At “An Evening with Pat Conroy,” he’ll talk about My Reading Life (Nan A.Talese/Doubleday, $25), in which he revisits some of the books and authors he has loved best over the years and the mentors who guided him.
Click here to read the rest of my interview with Conroy (who is more light-hearted than his books).
Thursday evening will begin with a 6 p.m. appearance by columnist Eugene Robinson.