Customer Reviews for

My Losing Season

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Moving and wonderful - a woman's perspective

Pat Conroy's A Losing Season was one of the most moving stories of growing up I've ever read. Anyone who has ever participated in athletics - at any level - would benefit from reading this book. As a former athlete, coach's wife, coach's daughter and coach's sister, a...
Pat Conroy's A Losing Season was one of the most moving stories of growing up I've ever read. Anyone who has ever participated in athletics - at any level - would benefit from reading this book. As a former athlete, coach's wife, coach's daughter and coach's sister, and mother of high school athletes, I can assure you Mr. Conroy expresses the real meaning behind what competing in athletics means; those life-changing moments that shape our future.

posted by Anonymous on August 7, 2003

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

Typical Conroy mediocre

An autobiographer should refrain from blowing his own horn about how wonderful he is. Conroy uses the Charleston newspaper in quotes to do it for him. It is also a bit tiresome how abused he was by his father. We read all about that in 'The Great Santini'. Alas,...
An autobiographer should refrain from blowing his own horn about how wonderful he is. Conroy uses the Charleston newspaper in quotes to do it for him. It is also a bit tiresome how abused he was by his father. We read all about that in 'The Great Santini'. Alas, Pat wants us to feel sorry for him again. He cannot seem to make up his mind if Mel Thompson was a terrible coach or just fair.

posted by Anonymous on December 24, 2007

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  • Posted January 31, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    an eyeopening memoir

    My Losing Season is an introspective look at a critical time period in the life of novelist Pat Conroy. After forty years, few would care, let alone remember, of a losing basketball team at South Carolina's military college of The Citadel. The team lost in the first round of the Southern Conference tournament, its coach was fired a few months after the season ended. The team's anonymity should not be any greater than scores of other teams that fade into the passage of time, falling far short of excellence on the college basketball courts of the nation. Yet this team had one of the greatest novelists that the region ever produced, and one of the more controversial graduates that the school ever graduated in Pat Conroy.

    This book has been Conroy's only attempt at a book length non-fiction account of his life. Readers familiar with books and movies such as the Great Santini and the Lords of Discipline will quickly recognize the real life characters that the fictional stories were based on. Conroy's real father was in many cases, much, much worse a father and husband than even was portrayed in the Great Santini. The brutalness of The Citadel, admittedly at the height of the Cold War and at a time when the old South was finally passing away, was in many cases much more arbitrary and difficult on an artistic, beat up and sensitive soul such as Conroy.

    It must have been a difficult job to reimagine the feelings and world view of a 21 year old, thirty years later. In many cases, though it is often remembered as the greatest time of life, the layers of life that get added afterwards bury the freshness and naivety of life beneath years of experience and world weariness. The key to understanding this book is that in many ways, the central character is the voice, the inner perspective that Conroy develops during this time period in his life that allows him to step out from the abused son of a Marine and the victim of a diffident and clueless basketball coach, who really didn't teach his players much.

    While primarily focused on Conroy's senior as captain of his basketball team, the memoir retells Conroy's entire life up to this point, especially as the observation and empathy skills developed that enabled him to be a writer. The stories of his father's brutality to his family are difficult to read, and due to Conroy's vivid writing, hard to absorb. You should feel empathy as Conroy tells the awkward story of his first real infatuation with a Charleston woman, who just needed a friend.

    Most of all, the reader should have the opportunity to take away from this memoir the triumph of life to overcome difficult circumstances, to deal with impossible harshness and the first, tentative steps of full adult hood for man. What is remarkable is how self-contained the story is. Much of this narrative takes place during the heat of the Vietnam War, and the radical movements and culture shift that came about as the baby boomers grew up. Conroy himself seems to indicate that he was oblivious to these larger movements, even at a conservative, Southern military college, and did not give them much thought until he was through with school, with protest followed by later shame as he realized the effort that his classmates gave for their country, during a difficult time. My Losing Season is an essential way to understand Conroy's work, and a vital

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2007

    A reviewer

    Pat Conroy makes me jealous that I did not pursue basketball in high school. His passion for the sport bleeds through the writing in his memoir, My Losing Season. In fewer than four hundred pages, Conroy takes the reader through his life on the basketball court, focusing on senior season on the basketball team at the Citadel. Using varied flashbacks, Conroy does a game by game analysis of his final year on the hardwood. Each of these games follows a simple equation, including: a description of the size and talent of the opposing team, the place that they are playing, the captainship, the halftime speech, and the vain efforts of Mel Thompson to keep Pat from shooting. In the last two hundred and fifty pages, each game uses this combination of descriptions, but it somehow does not get repetitive. A different hero emerges from each game, and one person in particular surfaces as the hero of the Citadel¿s season. I found myself rooting for Pat and the Citadel as I read on. Both Conroy and the military school take on the underdog role both are undersized and do not have the talent to play with much more competitive teams. Instead, both work harder, hustle more, and have more heart than anyone they would face in their disappointing season. Pat Conroy symbolizes the tough, hard-nosed Citadel basketball team, and ultimately emerges as their hero. Only Conroy can write about himself as a hero without appearing to believe that he is above everyone else. He does this by building up unbelievable ethos: a sophomore starts over him for the first few games of his senior season he is the envy of his team as the captain even though he is not a starter, and he is the leader of the ¿greenie weenies¿, the benchwarmers. He quotes his coach, Mel Thompson, at the end of the novel as saying that Pat Conroy: ¿gets more mileage out of his talent than any player I have ever coached¿ (341). Conroy makes this quote especially meaningful by building up Mel as a terrible person throughout the book. Regardless, Pat Conroy¿s memoir gives perspective in the world of basketball to many.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2004

    Surprised by Basketball

    I would have never purchased this book on my own. Our book club selected the book. I admit that I found myself quickly scanning a tad of the basketball blow by blow accounts, but I really enjoyed the balance of the reading. I had taken a college English course that stressed how the past impacts the present, and Pat Conroy certainly proved the value of understanding our past. The book is sweet, emotional, and conveys a great lesson of life.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2003

    Moving and wonderful - a woman's perspective

    Pat Conroy's A Losing Season was one of the most moving stories of growing up I've ever read. Anyone who has ever participated in athletics - at any level - would benefit from reading this book. As a former athlete, coach's wife, coach's daughter and coach's sister, and mother of high school athletes, I can assure you Mr. Conroy expresses the real meaning behind what competing in athletics means; those life-changing moments that shape our future.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Not the Typical Cinderella Story

    This memoir is definitely not focused upon a feel good winning season for the Citadel Bulldogs, rather it is just the opposite. So often writers focus on the miraculous wins and comebacks that it is interesting to read a story about a season almost completely full of losses. My Losing Season really captures the struggle of a young man when things are not going all that well both on and off the court. With a strict and hot tempered father who is in the military, Pat's life was not a walk in the park. All of the times the family had to move and all of the beatings Pat received from his father made his life a living hell at times. The only joy that came in his life was from basketball. But the eight and seventeen season for the Citadel Bulldogs did not bring much joy to Pat's life either. This story puts an incredible view on sports that is easy to relate to for many athletes. There always seems to be a season in an athlete's career that everyone wants to forget, but Conroy truly brings that season of his back for his audience. Through the book he does an excellent job of showing the importance of that season. He shows his audience that one can learn more from losing than from winning.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 20, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Conroy's Winning Reflection

    As much as I enjoy Pat Conroy's fictional accounts of South Carolina and tales of all things coastal, my preference are his forays into non-fiction. This book is a wonderful look at familiar Conroy themes like The Citadel, his dysfunctional relationship with his Marine colonel father, and the whole 'southern mystique' that he examines in each of his novels. In this reflection of his senior season as an undersized and sometimes over-matched college point guard, he examines the relationship dynamics of his teammates and coach and their responses to a disappointing 1966-67 campaign. It is a love story between a young man and a game, as told by an author who can actually convey his feelings for the sport. The individual game stories may make more sense to you if you are a basketball fan, but they are not critical to the overall enjoyment of the book. It is an impressive ode to growing up, letting go, moving on, and finally to reuniting with those who helped shape your journey into adulthood. Impeccably crafted and told in classic Conroy style. Well-worth your time and interesting for any fan of this author's work!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2007

    Typical Conroy mediocre

    An autobiographer should refrain from blowing his own horn about how wonderful he is. Conroy uses the Charleston newspaper in quotes to do it for him. It is also a bit tiresome how abused he was by his father. We read all about that in 'The Great Santini'. Alas, Pat wants us to feel sorry for him again. He cannot seem to make up his mind if Mel Thompson was a terrible coach or just fair.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2005

    In failure.....a winner

    Mr. Conroy loves to play the game of basketball so much that he does it despite constant criticism from his coach, and contempt for any success he has from his father. The lesson is that lack of athletic talent can be overcome by hard work and desire, and costanntly being told that you will be a failure, can serve as a rallying point for the human spirit.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2003

    My Losing Season - A Winner

    I'm a huge fan of Conroy's Great Santini, Prince of Tides and, especially, The Lords of Discipline. But his Beach Music was one of my biggest book-reading disappointments ever. So much so that I never intended to read this non-fiction work. But I got it as a gift from my wife, and Mr. Conroy will be happy to know he's back in my good graces. It's a coming-of-age novel in the form of a nonfiction memoir. Keeping it rolling are Conroy's gifts of observation and writing, no doubt. But the big plus are the ... 'interesting' antagonists of this work -- Conroy's abusive father and his cold college basketball coach. Conroy readers know the father from Santini, of course, but Santini proves to have been sanitized. This is one heck of a page-turner, for us basketball fans and for those who simply like a good read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2003

    HONEST ALMOST TO A FAULT

    A raw honest book, where Mr. Conroy exposes the details of a tough childhood, and his inner ability to rebound through sport and literature. A beautiful narritive that glves one insight into ones own life, that helps give meaning to suffering and redemption. I could not recommed this book more highly for anyone who has experienced the pitfalls and triumphs of a life time.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 2, 2003

    Good book- but not for everyone

    I really enjoyed 'My Losing Season' but I would caution other readers that this book is for people who truly enjoy reading Pat Conroy's style of writing. There is a great deal of basketball talk that goes into great detail. Have participated in competitive athletics, I can relate to this topic and find it interesting but, I don't think this is for everyone. The best part of 'My Losing Season' for me was finding out what is real in the strange Southern drama of Pat Conroy's life. A great book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2003

    Did we read the same book??

    This book is much less than the glowing tome indicated by other readers. After reading the book I was left wondering why was it written. There were no profound insights, few compelling characters. Just a team that lost a lot of games. More frequently than not the games Conroy highlights are those games in which he played well. I would expect such a book from Michael Jordan but not from a self-described mediocre point guard. Which brings up another point -- if he is so mediocre how does he rate as all state, and the Citadel MVP? Sorta like the fat guy that everyone calls Slim. I think he is actually paying homage to himself but lacks the courage to do it openly, resorting instead to frequent article insertions from local newspapers. I think the one part of the book which was most compelling was somewhat misplaced in the book. This just added to the disjointed nature of the book for me. I must admit I was unable to put the book down once I started reading it. I was looking for a point to the exercise and refused to stop reading until I found one. Alas, I found none.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2003

    Quite Surprised

    My wife bought me this book for Christmas after seeing Pat on some morning show, and to tell you the truth I didn't plan on reading it soon, or did I think it would be any good, but I absolutely loved it. Being a former college basketball player myself, coach and referee everything the author described brought back many memories of when basketball was simple and fun, not ruined by the ESPN Vitale Headband Long Trunks Self Absorbant Dunks that are the norm today. I loved it so much I bought the audio CD to listen to on long trips. Very accomplished writer describing to us about his fears, his relationship with his father and his wins in life despite the losing season. Most of all it taught about pride and respect which comes from life kicking you down, but you get back up. Awesome

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2003

    Insightful

    Revealing book about Mr. Conroy and what makes him tick. It is written in beautiful, classic Conroy style, so if you enjoy his novels, you should likewise enjoy this memoir. He is hard on himself, and the non-fictional aspect of this book, makes the truth somewhat hard to take, but it lets us see why and how tortured Mr. Conroy was and still is, though he has done a terrific job overcoming his past. This was probably theraputic for him, and should give us all strength to overcome obstacles. My favorite aspects of the book, and if you have read his previous books I would imagine this to be of interest to you, was the insight in the development of his previous novels. He tells you where people, ideas, situations, and stories came from, and they, as we knew, where from real life instances. I just didn't know the depth of how real and impactful they were. This account makes me want to reread his other novels, this time with an insiders eye.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2003

    A Truly Memerable Life; it will not be forgotten

    This book is truly is masterpiece. Conroy writes with excitement, fear, intensity, and with the spirit and soul of a talented man. If you enjoy Conroy, this book is the story of how his star basketball career and young childhood make him who he is today. This biography depicts the true childhood of Conroy, from his sweet sixteen days to his horrible days at The Citadel. A classic to cherish and relive!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2002

    A treasure!

    I was deeply moved by Mr. Conroy's book. I treasured every sentence in his book as his writing style is honest and complete. You do not have to like basketball to enjoy this book. I admire the courage of Mr. Conroy to tell his story. This book makes you think long and hard about your own life and it is another testament that we can become the person we want to be with persistance and thoughtfulness.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2003

    One of the best sports books

    As a Conroy fan I was very interested in this autobiographical tale of a young man's journey to adulthood. The book captures feelings about a sport and its participants that only those who play or coach can really appreciate. It is very well written. Anyone who reads who is not moved to tears several times has never been a player or a son. Put it on your must-read list.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2002

    wonderful, typical Conroy

    loved the book as I have every Conroy book - except for The Boo - which doesn't count - great prose, great feeling, great expression - although non-fiction it's hard for me to separate his fiction from his reality - probably more of a guy book because of the bball, Conroy bares his sole (again) and as always,makes the end of the book make me sad because I fear never finding another work as good as the one I have just finished

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2002

    The only way to win is to play the game

    Pat Conroy is one of favorite authors, not just because of his great skill as a writer but also due to his gift of bringing the South Carolina Low Country and its many characters and communities to life. In My Losing Season readers grasp the reality of the constant moves of military families, life as a Catholic school student and athlete, becoming part of a small sea island town like Beaufort, S.C. and the rigors of being a student-athlete AND knob at The Citadel. Throw in the ever-abusing father/nit wit Don Conroy and self-absorbed coach Mel Thompson and the mix is complete. Well, almost. Conroy's research for this book is extensive. At the suggestion of a Citadel teammate during his book signing tour for Beach Music, the author pieces together his senior year of basketball when the Bulldogs (Puppies to those of us who follow Georgia) floundered in an 8-17 season. But as many of us who have been part of a losing season can tell you, there are many victories within a life, even if the record books show otherwise. Conroy creates a masterful blend of locker room chitchat, rivalries and hurt egos allowing readers to become, in essence, part of the team. In Losing season, Conroy, more than any sports story I can remember, includes the team's manager as part of their story; part of their feeling of angst; part of their will to survive under the unwavering ranting of a coach who cannot or will not adjust his coaching style to accomodate the military orientation of The Citadel. The "victory" for these players is not recorded in the scorebook, rather from their ability to play the game, look life in the face and march on in the face of adversity; indeed, a lesson we all need to learn at some point in our lives. The Citadel is not a place for sissies, and neither is life! Conroy dispenses this bit of logic time and again, finally overcoming his father's bullying when the elder Conroy won't accept his son's challenge of a one-one-game after Pat's senior season. Losing Season also touches on the era's most painful subject: Vietnam. In recalling fallen comrades and POW's, Conroy establishes the fact that while The Citadel's many alumni go on to lead lives outside of the military, many more do maintain military careers, sometimes paying the ultimate price. In his efforts to bring many issues to life, and salve wounds to the school created when he wrote The Lords of Discipline, Conroy has prouduced a magnificent work. One that not only displays his love and affection for his teammates but also for his alma mater. After all he, like others who brave the school's harsh plebe system, wears the ring. He polishes it nicely with My Losing Season.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2002

    A Special Book That Can Change A Reader Forever

    For me the book started out as a story of an abused child, the abuser, and the enabler.In the end it was, for me, a magnificant look at both the coping skills of the abused and the great power of the enabler. It ranks with Kramer vs. Kramer, Three Faces of Eve, Ordinary People, I Never Promised You A Rose Garden as one of those special books that can change a reader forever. Once read it cannot be forgotten. Thank you Mr. Conroy for writing this book. I know that it is very possible that you have much more to say in your struggle with cruel fate. You fight with courage,determination,strength,special talent and a grand and singular will to win.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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