Readers' Favorite Book Reviews
Reviewed by Lesley Jones for Readers' Favorite
In Same Red Dirt by Pat Conrad, follow the adventures of one man as he gives up his career and life in the United States, and travels to Australia. He has no definite plan when he arrives. He takes everything in his stride and recounts his adventures with a dark humour and an honesty that is simply entertaining. Pat has some extraordinary jobs, spending eight months working in a mental hospital in Sydney and caring for Australia’s most dangerous patients. He meets some disturbing and troubled characters, and has some hair-raising moments. From there, follow his exciting road trip with his friend across Australia and Tasmania. Pat’s road trip is cut short with news from home. He decides to return to the US, but is still trying to find that missing piece in his life. Explore this brutally honest account filled with daring exploits, memorable characters, and thought provoking life lessons. Back in the US, he makes an acquaintance that will change his life in a remarkable way.
Same Red Dirt by Pat Conrad will make you want to give up the daily grind of your 9-5 routine and embark on your own adventure. His experiences in Callan Park Mental Hospital were compelling and amusing. The descriptions of the patients, especially Bart, were told with compassion and humour. The stories of corruption and bribery from the nurses on D Ward were horrific and quite disturbing. I admired his openness and honesty throughout this book. He didn’t paint himself to be anything but a man who was searching for a life purpose, but found adventure and eternal memories instead. He has proven that life is to be lived and I was glad when he finally found meaning in his life at the end. It came in the most unusual form, but I feel it was his destiny to finally find peace. A thoroughly well written and candid book.
Review Rating: 5 Stars - Congratulations on your 5-star review!
5 Stars out of 5
Same Red Dirt by Pat Conrad is a comical memoir of Pat’s journey. When he was a young man, Pat chucked his job and set off on a long journey to Australia, not knowing what he would find. He wasn’t even sure he would make it back to the USA. Over the course of the next 13 months, he encountered situations and characters that he would never forget. For a while, he worked in the Callan Park Mental Hospital in Sydney, where some of the most criminally insane people are housed. He visited long sandy beaches and traveled the outback, finding nothing but the same red dirt for miles. He made bad choices, he made good ones, and this is his story.
Same Red Dirt: A Comical Memoir by Pat Conrad is a bit of an eyeopener. Although there are tons of ex-pats living in different countries, the percentage is small in real-world terms; there aren’t that many people who have the guts to throw in the towel and set off on an adventure – I did it and so did Pat. This is a highly amusing and moving tale of his experiences along his journey as he tries to find himself. We watch Pat grow as he travels, as he learns and takes in new experiences, and the difference in his maturity from start to finish is astounding. It just shows what a bit of life experience can do for the soul! His courage is to be commended and I truly enjoyed following his story, experiencing his ups and downs and the good and the bad. Pat has written this in such a way that you can’t help but be transported into his life and, if nothing else, it should awaken a bit of wanderlust in people. A year isn’t so long and there is much to see and learn; Pat teaches us that with a mixture of humor and humility. Thanks for inviting us along on the ride, I thoroughly enjoyed it!
5 Stars out of 5
Same Red Dirt: A Comical Memoir is a nonfiction travel memoir written by Pat Conrad. It was the spring of 1971, and Conrad had decided to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. He’d cross the globe and explore life Down Under. Fresh out of high school, he had been working for Delta Airlines as a baggage handler and had enjoyed not only a decent wage that allowed him to sock away some savings, but travel discounts, which were offered as a perk. Conrad had grown up in Daytona Beach and loved the beach where he had worked summer as a lifeguard. So, Australia’s endless shores and sandy beaches were a powerful lure after three long years in a job that entailed disorienting rotating shifts and a dress code that was decidedly at odds with the prevailing counter-culture of the time. Conrad’s accrued vacation time would allow him to plan a vacation that included him giving notice after he left. After twenty hours of flying, he arrived in Sydney, where his new life began.
Pat Conrad’s nonfiction travel memoir, Same Red Dirt: A Comical Memoir, is an engaging and well-written account of a most unforgettable year abroad. The author gives the reader snapshots in time of Daytona, Sydney and those roads he traveled while in Australia. I was particularly interested in the time he spent working as a male nurse in the Callan Park Mental Hospital. His portraits of the various inmates he worked with are sympathetic and perceptive, and people who one would ordinarily shy away from, because of their not-so-conventional behavior, are revealed as being infinitely human. The time spent on the roads, picking produce and living on his wits, are likewise compelling and entertaining reading. I’ve always been fascinated by the Land Down Under and had a grand time experiencing this through Conrad’s eyes. Same Red Dirt: A Comical Memoir is most highly recommended.
4 Stars out of 5
Same Red Dirt by Pat Conrad is one of those memoirs that will resonate with different readers for different reasons. Those who look back on their youth and remember the silly, sometimes dangerous things they did, decisions they made without considering the consequences, will certainly relate to Pat Conrad’s sudden whim as a young adult to up and leave his boring job as an airline baggage handler in Florida to travel overseas to Australia in search of greener grass ... only to find in the long run the 'Same Red Dirt' he left back home. Those who look at their lives as a constant search for happiness, during which time they did what some would consider sinful i.e. indulging in drugs and sex just as an end in themselves, and ultimately came to the realization that happiness lies in finding God, will relate to the latter part of Same Red Dirt after Conrad returned to the US.
The rest of us won’t search for meanings, but will simply enjoy reading some of the eye-popping experiences Conrad had while working in a mental hospital in Sydney for 8 months. I don’t know how many times I stopped and thought, “Eek! How do the nurses and aides stand working in a place like that with patients like these? That takes fortitude and stomachs that few of us have!” It was amazing that Conrad, who wasn’t trained for such work, lasted as long as he did. And no one would blame him for being ecstatic to finally get on the road to do what he came to Australia for: see the country, enjoy some Aussie girls, get a taste of the Aussie lifestyle along with some Aussie pot and, well, live like a hippie for as long as it appealed. After all, it’s only after you do something like Conrad did that you can look back and say, “Maybe I did some things I shouldn’t have, but life is all about learning and finding ourselves in the process.” And that is what Pad Conrad did in Same Red Dirt. The style is conversational and friendly. Conrad laughs at himself and we laugh with him. Those who take the time to read Same Red Dirt might find a bit of themselves in Conrad’s memoir.
5 out of 5 Stars
Same Red Dirt: A Comical Memoir by Pat Conrad relates the travels and experiences of the author as he searched for fulfilment. Believing that monotony of life was the reason for his general restlessness and dissatisfaction, Pat Conrad gave up the security of a regular job and the comfort of a Florida home to travel to Australia. Without a basic plan to provide for his travels, Pat found himself working in a notorious mental hospital, where he learned to deal with troubled and aggressive patients, nearly had his ears bitten off, and learned to appreciate the sanity of others after a series of harrowing experiences. Pat eventually hits the road to explore the big, wild country and relates his experiences, but ultimately realises that what he is seeking is not in another country or another culture, but in his heart and spirit.
The author, Pat Conrad, tells his story with deadpan humour in that the bizarre situations he found himself in could almost be an expected part of his everyday life. A large part of the book centres on his experiences in the mental hospital, but these, together with all that he endures whilst trying to find happiness and contentment, eventually bring him to the realisation that what he is really searching for is fulfilment within. When he returns to his home country, he looks at everything in a different light, and through contact with a priest his brother introduces him to, eventually becomes a Christian and finds all he is looking for in the teachings of Jesus Christ. Well written with wry humour.