Author Pat Conroy was larger than life, and his work vividly described the dark shadows and bright corners of family life in the South. Like William Faulkner and James Dickey, Conroy told sprawling tales about himself, his family and his friends. He was a lovable, irascible rapscallion and a raconteur who never met a story he couldn’t tell with humor, relish and gusto. Since Conroy’s death in 2016, several books have followed: A Lowcountry Life: Reflections on a Writing Life, a posthumous collection of his own writings; My Exaggerated Life, an oral biography by Katherine Clark; and Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy, a collection of fond memories.
Michael Mewshaw’s The Lost Prince joins in this flood of memories, offering an intimate, affectionate and candid portrait of his friendship with Conroy. While Mewshaw was living in Rome in the 1980s, Conroy called him one day out of the blue, looking for the companionship of another American writer in Rome. When the two first met, they discovered their shared love of basketball, their similarly dysfunctional families and their fear of flying. Over the next decade, Mewshaw and Conroy and their families were almost inseparable, enjoying parties with well-known literary figures such as Gore Vidal and William Styron. However, after a seismic event in the mid-1990s, the lights went out in their relationship, and the two never reconciled.
In a letter to Mewshaw in 2003, Conroy asked him to write about “you and me and what happened.” In The Lost Prince, Mewshaw lovingly, colorfully and splendidly does just that.