Pat Conroy's 'The Death of Santini' Examines the Death of His Father

The author talks about writing his new book and his relationship with his abusive father.
4:37 | 10/29/13

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Transcript for Pat Conroy's 'The Death of Santini' Examines the Death of His Father
We're so happy to be joined this morning by our dear friend, charlie gibson. He's bringing us an interview he did with pat conroy. And pat has a brand-new book out. This one is a memoir. It's called "the death of santini." And it's -- you've been talking about this for some time. I never get tired of looking at you. Pardon for lack of a voice. I have a cold. Pat is a beautiful writer. This is a nonfiction book. It's about the death of his dad. It's about a very dysfunctional family. He says his father, in all his years, never made him laugh. Can you imagine saying anything about so difficult about a dad? Beat his mom. Beat the kids. There was a reconciliation at the end. In the end, a very hopeful story. I've been writing the story of my own life for over 40 years, pat conroy begins the newest book, "the death of santini." It's an unflinching look at conroy's family. But he's been writing versions of his life for his entire career. This whole thing about this fixation with family, may be my great weakness as a writer. Or your great strength. Or my great strength. In what may be conroy's plot twist, the book is an interesting love letter to his once-abusive father. I can't remember a house i lived in as a child, where he did not beat my mother or me or my brothers. There wasn't one. Well, it's been a constant theme in your writing. I haven't written about many happy families. Reporter: I've been a fan, friend and interviewer of pat conroy, for a quarter of a century. That was our first "gma" interview. There would be seven in total. I had a chance to talk to your dad when we were down in south carolina, talking about an earlier book that we wrote. You keep showing up in pat's books. Well, actually, he has written so much about this family, that I think that we're being overexposed. Reporter: And he acknowledged a lot of what you have written. But then he said, you have to understand pat. Pat will always be the hero. Reporter: And the father will always be -- he's the heavy. Reporter: Is that fair? He used that on me a thousand times. That's a pretty good literary criticism. Reporter: It was "the great santini" that marked the changing point in the relationship between father and son. The book he hated. But my father really got into the movie. My father died thinking he made the career of robert duvall. He said, finally, duval had a role with some meat on it. Reporter: After the movie's release, a warming of sorts takes place. Conroy says his father had the best second act I ever saw. Dad never told me he loved me in his life. He died without telling me that. But there was something in his gestures, that was letting me know that he was making some attempt. Reporter: As a reason for writing this book, you write, mom and dad, I've got to try to make sense of it, one last time. And then, I'll be finished with you, mom and dad. I must examine the wreckage one last time. Can you really put it down? You know, I think I can, charlie. But I may be lying. Reporter: So, in the end, is it a hopeful story? Given what you and your dad went through in his second act? To me, it's an amazing story, charlie. It seems that mom and dad, for whatever reason, created something of an amazing, american family. And so, the story seems like a good one to me. Amazing story. But seven siblings, four or five of them tried to commit suicide before they were 40. The family was so scarred. But out of that, came a reconciliation. It's extraordinary. A beautiful story. And very special that you brought it to us. We didn't even have to bribe you with breakfast this time to come back and be with us in the studio. Didn't get paid much, either. Charlie, you have a home here anytime. "The death of santini" ♪

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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