April 7, 2005


Frank Conroy Dies at 69; Led Noted Writers' Workshop (CHARLES McGRATH, 4/07/05, NY Times)

Frank Conroy, the author of the classic memoir "Stop-Time" and an influence on generations of young writers, died yesterday at his home in Iowa City. He was 69.

The cause was colon cancer, said his wife, Margaret.

Mr. Conroy, who headed the Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa for 18 years, published just five books, a relatively small number for a writer of his reputation. But one of them was the lucid and evocative 1967 memoir that has been a model for countless young writers - the sort of book that is passed along like a trade secret.

But Mr. Conroy was a personal model as well, a sympathetic but exacting teacher who at Iowa helped shape the early careers of writers including Curtis Sittenfeld, Elizabeth McCracken, Z. Z. Packer, Nathan Englander and Abraham Verghese. Several of Mr. Conroy's former students have themselves become teachers in the Conroy mode. "It's a ripple effect," said one of them, the novelist Jayne Anne Phillips.

Not only a better writer than Saul Bellow but, unfortunately, a more influential one. The memoir, which he was one of the first to popularize, has nearly ruined current literature. He and Frank McCourt have a lot to answer for.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 7, 2005 8:11 AM

Gee, what'd McCourt do that was so bad? Stretch the truth? He's Irish.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at April 7, 2005 12:06 PM