The Lost Prince: Book Presentation with Author Michael Mewshaw
John Cabot University welcomed author Michael Mewshaw to present his new book The Lost Prince: A Search for Pat Conroy (Counterpoint Press) on November 20, 2019. The event, moderated by English professor Elizabeth Geoghegan, was sponsored by the Department of English Language and Literature, and by the Institute for Creative Writing and Literary Translation.
The book chronicles the friendship between Mewshaw and Pat Conroy (1945-2016). The author of such classics as The Prince of Tides and The Great Santini, Pat Conroy was an American author recognized as a leading figure of late-20th century Southern literature.
Mewshaw and Conroy met in Rome in 1981. Conroy telephoned Mewshaw saying that he had just moved there and that he needed a friend. At the time, Mewshaw lived in the Gianicolo area, whereas Conroy spent his first year in a gated community in the Olgiata area, slightly outside of Rome. Mewshaw and Conroy bonded right away because they had a similar upbringing. Both writers were Irish Catholics and both liked to play basketball. In addition, they both had abusive parents who beat them.
Their friendship lasted from 1981 to 1994, when Conroy asked Mewshaw to inform his second wife Lenore that he wanted a divorce. Mewshaw complied, but afterward, the two never saw each other again because Conroy accused Mewshaw of siding with Lenore. Years later they managed to reconcile via email and correspond, but their friendship never fully recovered. Conroy passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2016.
Shortly before passing, Conroy urged Mewshaw to write about “me and you and what happened.” Mewshaw decided to write the book not only because Conroy asked him to, but also because he realized that the eulogies that were written after his death were not very accurate.
During his research for the book, Mewshaw read Conroy’s diaries, correspondence, books, and papers, and realized that there was a big disconnect between the way in which Conroy described some events and the way they had really happened. According to Mewshaw, Conroy had a tendency to exaggerate and take the liberty to tweak stories, making his description of events quite inaccurate.
Mewshaw concluded by saying that for many years, their friendship was positive despite Conroy’s problematic attitude. To this day, Mewshaw remembers Conroy fondly but admits to having ambivalent feelings towards him.
Michael Mewshaw’s five-decade career includes award-winning fiction, nonfiction, literary criticism, and investigative journalism. He is the author of the nonfiction works Sympathy for the Devil: Four Decades of Friendship with Gore Vidal and Between Terror and Tourism; the novel Year of the Gun; and the memoir Do I Owe You Something? He has published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and numerous international outlets. He spends much of his time in Key West, Florida.