Customer Reviews for

My Losing Season

Average Rating 4
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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, focus...
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.

posted by Anonymous on October 28, 2007

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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 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 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 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 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 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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  • Posted May 30, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    I just love Pat!

    The analogy of reading Pat Conroy is like putting broken glasses in the garbage disposal is just so true for most of his work, and this is no exception, but I love him none-the-less. He reminds me of the things I hate about my life and that I should be thankful I too have survived to tell about it. He reminds me that there are wonderful people in all our lives and that we should always be looking for them and never miss the opportunity to tell them. I just enjoy reading his work. My favorites are still The Lords of Discipline and The Water is Wide. Thanks!!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2008

    My losing season

    This book was a great book! I enjoyed it very well... It taught me dont ive up on anything and if you set your heart to it then you can do anything!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2006

    Losing is how you take it

    My Losing Season by Pat Conroy was a great book. My Losing Season is about a senior basketball player Pat and his college teammates with a real hard nosed coach. Pat as a child moves around alot with a father who doesn't want to help his son become a better basketball player. Pat became the player on his own with no help from his father. The book is about young men struggling with losing game after game while making a lasting bond. For the most part I liked this book, and I believe any athlete should read this book because almost everyone has a season like the boys in the book. Really anyone who loves sports should read this book, because everyone should be able to relate to the boys in the book at on point or another

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2002

    An Honest Book

    I recently read The Gravel Drive by Kirk Martin thegraveldrive.com, which provides a heartfelt and genuine journey inside the heart of a father whose son is missing. Then I read Pat Conroy's memoir, which again is another honest look inside the heart of a man. These books touched me deeply, and I recommend that every man, father or son, read these books.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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