Author Event: Pat Conroy in Winnetka, IL

Authors on the Altar

My mom and I ventured up to the far northern suburb of Winnetka, IL last night to see one of my literary heroes, Pat Conroy. The event was hosted by The Book Stall and held at a local church.

We arrived in town about an hour before the event, so we went to The Book Stall for a little browsing. An employee mentioned that Pat Conroy was actually in the store having just finished being interviewed by Mike Leonard. I was fortunate to meet Pat Conroy about fifteen years ago in Charlotte, NC at a house party prior to a book signing event.

It was only because of that prior meeting that I restrained myself from bugging him while at the bookstore. Instead, as I stood at the counter at the Caribou Coffee that’s connected to the bookstore, I just calmly said, “Hello, Mr. Conroy,” as he walked through the coffee shop on his way out the door for the event. He nodded, smiled, and said hello. What I wouldn’t give to sit down and talk with him over a cup of coffee.

Mike Leonard and Pat Conroy

We arrived at the church just before the bulk of the crowd started rolling in. The event was Q&A format with Mike Leonard asking a question and Pat Conroy offering a wonderful reply that didn’t quite answer the question. Towards the end audience members got to ask some questions, too.

One question that did get more of a direct answer was regarding whether or not a movie was going to be made of Beach Music. I vaguely remember there being talk of a movie being made, but, as the asker of the question said, that talk faded away after a few years. Pat Conroy gave the scoop: Brad Pitt was the guy who bought the rights to the film and apparently those rights got tied up in his divorce from Jennifer Aniston. Apparently its anyone’s guess if the movie will ever be made.

I was happy to hear Conroy say that in recent travels around the country he’s seeing a resurrection of independent bookstores.

And for you NaNoWriMos out there struggling with a story, why not try some autobiographically based fiction. “It’s cleansing,” Conroy said, “like confession.” And he added, “Family life is like an ocean–it’s endless, you can never get to the bottom.”

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