A Love Letter to Thomas Wolfe

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A Love Letter to Thomas Wolfe

by Pat Conroy
Southern Cultures, Vol. 5, No. 3: Fall 1999

"The author of The Great Santini reveals a long admiration for the author of Look Homeward, Angel."

I have needed to write the American novelist, Thomas Wolfe, a love letter since I first encountered him in Eugene Norris’s high school English class at the end of 1961. Though I had no way of knowing it then, I had recently entered into the geography and home territory of what would become my literary terrain. For three months I had been native to the county of Beaufort in the state of South Carolina. It was the year I believe I came alive to myself as a human being, the year I felt the fretful, uneasy awakening of something rising within me that I could distinguish as belonging to me and me alone. It marked the first time I could look into the mirror, where I thought I alone was standing, and see that something was in there staring back at me.