My losing season

by Pat Conroy

Hardcover, 2002




New York : Nan A. Talese, 2002.


NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * A deeply affecting coming-of-age memoir about family, love, loss, basketball--and life itself--by the beloved author of The Prince of Tides and The Great Santini   During one unforgettable season as a Citadel cadet, Pat Conroy becomes part of a basketball team that is ultimately destined to fail. And yet for a military kid who grew up on the move, the Bulldogs provide a sanctuary from the cold, abrasive father who dominates his life--and a crucible for becoming his own man.   With all the drama and incandescence of his bestselling fiction, Conroy re-creates his pivotal senior year as captain of the Citadel Bulldogs. He chronicles the highs and lows of that fateful 1966-67 season, his tough disciplinarian coach, the joys of winning, and the hard-won lessons of losing. Most of all, he recounts how a group of boys came together as a team, playing a sport that would become a metaphor for a man whose spirit could never be defeated.   Praise for My Losing Season   "A superb accomplishment, maybe the finest book Pat Conroy has written."--The Washington Post Book World   "A wonderfully rich memoir that you don't have to be a sports fan to love."--Houston Chronicle   "A memoir with all the Conroy trademarks . . . Here's ample proof that losers always tell the best stories."--Newsweek   "In My Losing Season, Conroy opens his arms wide to embrace his difficult past and almost everyone in it."--New York Daily News   "Haunting, bittersweet and as compelling as his bestselling fiction."--Boston Herald… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member varielle
Pat Conroy’s My Losing Season is the autobiography of his life as an athlete focusing on his senior year playing basketball at the Citadel during the 1966-67 season. These were the days when the college courts were still dominated by white players and someone who was 6’4” was considered to be tall. Having met the genial and slightly portly Mr. Conroy, who was only 5’10”, it was initially hard to visualize the point guard he once was zipping up and down the court. However, his prose captures the drive and passion for the game that possesses ex-players of basketball. Those of us who have never played or been even able to comprehend the sport will be granted the Aha! moment when their eyes will be opened and you will find yourself muttering, “Now I understand”. Conroy has been able to mine the brutality of his upbringing to create a series of bestsellers. My Losing Season shows how those experiences created the man that he is and is an inspiration to those athletes whose love of their game pushes them to exceed their natural abilities.… (more)
LibraryThing member sistercdr
I just finished another book yesterday. It's one I've had for years and put off reading despite its author, Pat Conroy, being one of my favorites. My Losing Season was every wonderful thing I expected it to be, but I know why I put off reading it for so long.

Conroy is a master of language. His words dance, spin and stab like few other authors. I've had to read passages of his books aloud because they're so beautiful. The family knows by now, when I'm reading Conroy, to expect, "Oh, listen to this." His descriptions are poetry, yet I've never felt like he crosses the line into just diddling with beautiful words just because he can. He's also the author who has best given this overly estrogen saturated female a comprehensible glimpse into the mysteries of the male psyche. I enjoyed The Prince of Tides as a movie as long as I didn't think too hard or long about the book. The movie became a story for women. Only glimpses of the terror and agony that made this very much a man's tale showed through. The Lords of Discipline, The Great Santini, The Water is Wide, Beach Music and The Boo reek of delectably prime testosterone, and My Losing Season places that aroma right in the heart of a locker room.

What draws me to Conroy though is not just the sheer masculinity of his novels. It's the vulnerability, the secret weapon of the most dangerous men. I've fallen a little bit in love with Ben Meecham, Will McLean, Tom Wingo and Jack McCall. It would be hard not to with those manly, outdoorsy men who can cook, admit to both intentionally and inadvertently seriously hurting the women in their lives, cry and love being daddies. He's also damn good at letting people see what it's like being a white Southerner caught between what's hateful, ridiculous and glorious about our part of this American subculture.

Despite my almost but not quite silly state of Conroy fandom, I still put off reading My Losing Season until I was too sick to get up and find another book. This literal autobiography began with a confession of mediocrity and went on to tell how Conroy ended being a basketball player and how he became a writer. (I got chills at the scene where he was asked to autograph one of his books at the desk where William Faulkner had written Absalom, Absalom!) I loved reading about his growing confidence as a young man, a basketball player and writer. The simplicity he used to show the pains and joys in his life as a military brat, his reconciliation with his father and The Citadel, the reunion of his team and seeing his old coach again made me want to strip every bit of sentimentality from my writing and make it as real as I can.

I loved this book just as I expected to, but I had to be ready to be honest with myself before I could read it. That was why I delayed, and ultimately why Pat Conroy is one of my favorite writers. I cannot avoid being grimly honest about my life and my talents when I read his books, but I always come away with the knowledge that brilliance burned through and past the mediocrities in his characters and the hope that it can do the same with me.
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LibraryThing member debnance
My first Pat Conroy. Hope to read The Great Santini that was spoken of in this book. Recommended.
LibraryThing member MaryC22
For those that enjoy Pat Conroys ficiton, this book helped me understand his themes. Father son relationships are always hard and this one is no exception. I don't know that I would have the courage to write so honestly about my family.
LibraryThing member bherner
I got hooked on Pat Conroy way back when and now feel obligated to read anything he writes. This book was a disapointment. His fiction is better.
LibraryThing member plm1250
an autobio of Conroy's years at the Citadel as a mediocre basketball player who made up for his lack of natural athletic ability with drive and desire. Interesting as it actually provides quite a bit of background on his family and growing up and how he used them as basis for his fictional characters in his novels.
LibraryThing member judithrs
MY LOSING SEASON. Pat Conroy. 2002. I never thought I’d read a basketball memoir, but when I saw this for a dollar at the Habitat for Humanity Store I couldn’t resist. I have never regretted reading anything by Pat Conroy. I was lost reading the descriptions of basketball games, but in addition to being an account of the Citadel basketball season 1966-1067; this was also an account of Conroy’s teen and college years which is always interesting. The best part of the book is Conroy’s recollections of what happened to the individual players and coaches after they finished the season and what happened to Conroy. The most moving part of the book was at the end when Conroy talks about his classmates who went to Vietnam while he was protesting the war: “Now I understand I should have protested the war after my return from Vietnam, after I had done my duty. I have come to a conclusion about my country that I knew in my bones, but lacked the courage to act on: America is a good enough country to die for even when she is wrong.”… (more)
LibraryThing member LaineyMac
Somewhat to my surprise, this is one of my favorite Pat Conroy books, and it's a memoir. Perhaps it's the fact that it's so personal (though I think all his novels are personal on some level) that makes it so immediate. The prose is pure Conroy and his love of the game of basketball practically leaps off the page. Though I've watched basketball my entire life, Conroy gave me new insight and appreciation for the sometimes lowly point guard position. The heartbreak of Conroy's father never watching his son play his beloved game underlies every chapter, but this book rewards the reader with life lessons and appreciations for all that sport can do for a lost boy.… (more)
LibraryThing member VashonJim
Conroy's true-life story of the hard life he led both at home and at the Citadel. Basketball is the thread that runs through the book, but it is far more than a sports story.
LibraryThing member jerry-book
Reminds me of my high school season. Great read for anyone who has played a sport.
LibraryThing member MHanover10
There are few books that affect me when they are over. Ones that make me sad and depressed because I will no longer be with the characters. Ones that can break my heart so much that when I turn the last page, I end up crying or even sobbing because I have grown to love the characters and/or I wish the book wasn’t done.

This is one of those books. My Losing Season is about Pat’s last year as point guard and captain of The 1966-67 Citadel Bulldogs and about his childhood with a strict and abusive father which defined him as a man.

When I say “Pat Conroy” in my head or out loud, I hear the voice of Jay O. Sanders who read the book. Jay has a slightly southern accent that fits perfectly with the book. While listening, I wondered how many times Jay read the book to know when to put feeling and passion into the dialog because he does a fantastic job.

Now granted, some people don’t like sports or some people can take it or leave it. I work in sports and I love sports. I’m not obsessed, but I enjoy a good game of basketball where the players play their hearts out and leave all of it on the court. During the Bulldogs’ losing season, you felt the passion and love of the game; you felt just how hard they fought. I found myself cheering for them even though the games were played back in 1966 and 1967. I cried after Pat had the best game of his life and his Dad still called him a loser and shoved him up against a wall.

I cried and laughed while driving to and from work. I sat in my car in the parking garage before work as I finished listening to the book, surprised by the afterward by the author himself (I should have read the cover closer).

His short speech left me sobbing in the car, tears streaming down my face as I walked into work and got on the elevator.

I’m glad I decided to take a chance on this book. I’m glad I listened to it during March Madness as the Big 12 Men’s Basketball Championship roared into town and I will listen to it every March Madness as Pat reminds me each time that you have to believe in yourself. Not everyone will be affected by Pat’s story as I was, but that’s okay. I’m just glad I got to experience the 1966-67 Citadel basketball team’s losing season and the young man of Pat Conroy.
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LibraryThing member DKnight0918
I love Conroy but I just couldn't get into this one right now. I'll try it again some other time.

Took me almost 8 years to finish this one. I love Conroy but am not a basketball fan. Listening to the audiobook helped, though.


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