Skip to content

Books I Won’t Read: The Great Santini by Pat Conroy

August 16, 2021

It’s easy not to read The Great Santini by Pat Conroy. The novel came out decades ago, and statistically nobody reads it anymore. I don’t even know if many people read The Great Santini when it originally was published. All I know is that I can proclaim that I’ll never read The Great Santini and nobody will care.

I sometimes read books that I say I’ll never read. I said I’d never read A Song of Ice and Fire until George R.R. Martin finished the series, but I went ahead and read sections of each book anyway. I wasn’t lying when I announced I wasn’t going to read the series. At the time, I didn’t intend on reading the books. But I’m still pretty sure I’ll never read The Great Santini.

Back in the early 1980s, my dad and I were watching the movie version of The Great Santini starring Robert Duvall, and my dad quit half-way through. He said it was too tough for him, that the title character reminded him of his dad. That was funny, I thought; the title character reminded me a lot of my own dad, but I didn’t tell him. We didn’t talk about the movie after that.

In some ways, my dad was worse than the movie’s title character (I’m not going to get into the details), but he wasn’t worse all the time. I have some good memories of my dad. I’d rather focus on those instead.

I don’t like to think of my dad as a version of The Great Santini. Instead, I refer to him as an extreme parent. He was extremely funny sometimes. He could also be extremely angry, extremely generous, extremely violent, extremely selfish, and especially extremely unpredictable.

I’ve noticed recently that some people seem to love reliving trauma. I get suspicious of people who announce their past traumas to the world. I’m very suspicious of people who profit off of their alleged traumas, especially writers. Whenever I hear a famous person talk about how he/she has suffered in the past, I think he/she is making it up or exaggerating.

I know not everybody with extreme stuff in their past is like me and keeps quiet about it, but I’m still suspicious of post-trauma profiteers when I see them.

I’m also not going to watch the movie version of The Great Santini again. If I had to choose (and I don’t), I’d rather read about trauma than watch it. I have cut out a bunch of stuff like that in my life, gratuitously violent movies, sexualized videos, cable news (TV news in general) because all of that stuff increases fear or anger or other negative emotions. I’ve been sleeping a lot better recently because of these sensory input changes, I think.

I might not ever write about the extreme stuff that happened to me growing up. I don’t want to put that on people who know me who might read my blog. On the other hand, writing about it now wouldn’t hurt anybody because almost everybody involved with the extreme stuff has died already. Even so, I don’t think it does the younger generations of my family much good to get into explicit details.

I don’t care if other people read The Great Santini. I’m not calling for a boycott or anything like that. It might be a great book. I’m simply not going to read it, and I think I have a good reason.


Enough about me! What do you think? Is The Great Santini worth reading (when your dad doesn’t remind you of the title character)? What books won’t you read and why not?

  1. I can’t say that I will never read a specific book, but I can say I will never finish reading a specific book. Ok, wait – I can safely say I will never read “Ulysses” or “Finnegans Wake” by James Joyce.

  2. That is what a private journal is for…it is cathartic to write out the bad stuff from your past and how you have adjusted to date etc. I agree sharing is not something to do…why stress a friend unnecessarily. There is only one book that I bought and then could not read…a woman called Danica wrote a book entitled ‘Don’t’ about her childhood abuse and it was a nightmare story that I got the gist of but could not read. The story is so heartbreaking and horrifying that I could not bear it. There are many books I won’t read that involve abuse of children, forensic books like those by Kathy Reichs…as I get older I cannot bring myself to read books about man’s inhumanity to man or animal.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: