William Styron

William Styron

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A work of great personal courage and a literary tour de force, this bestseller is Styron's true account of his descent into a crippling and almost suicidal depression. Styron is perhaps the first writer to convey the full terror of depression's psychic landscape, as well as the illuminating path to recovery.


From the Trade Paperback edition....

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In this brilliant collection of "long short stories, " the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Sophie's Choice returns to the coastal Virginia setting of his first novels. Through the eyes of a man recollecting three episodes from his youth, William Styron explores with new eloquence death, loss, war, and racism....

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Before writing his memoir of madness, Darkness Visible, William Styron was best known for his ambitious works of fiction–including The Confessions of Nat Turner and Sophie’s Choice. Styron also created personal but no less powerful tales based on his real-life experiences as a U.S. Marine. The Suicide Run collects five of these meticulously rendered narratives. One of them–“Elobey, Annobón, and Corisco”–is published here for the first time.

In “Blankenship,” written in 1953, Styron draws on his stint as a guard at a stateside military prison at the end of World War II. “Marriott, the Marine” and “The Suicide Run”–which Styron composed in the early 1970s as part of an intended novel that he set aside to write Sophie’s Choice–depict the surreal experience of being conscripted a second time, after World War II, to serve in the Korean War. “My Father’s House” captures the isolation and frustration of a soldier trying to become a civilian again. In “Elobey, Annobón, and Corisco,” written late in Styron’s life, a soldier attempts to exorcise the dread of an approaching battle by daydreaming about far-off islands, visited vicariously through his childhood stamp collection.

Perhaps the last volume from one of literature’s greatest voices, The Suicide Run brings to life the drama, inhumanity, absurdity, and heroism that forever changed the men who served in the Marine Corps.


From the Hardcover edition....

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"I've finally pretty much decided what to write next--a novel based on Nat Turner's rebellion," twenty-six-year-old William Styron confided to his father in a letter he wrote on May 1, 1952. Styron would not publish his Pulitzer Prize-winning The Confessions of Nat Turner until 1967, but this letter undercuts those critics who later attacked the writer as an opportunist capitalizing on the heated racial climate of the late 1960s. From 1943 to 1953, Styron wrote over one hundred letters to William C. Styron, Sr., detailing his adventures, his works in progress, and his ruminations on the craft of writing. In Letters to My Father, Styron biographer James L. W. West III collects this correspondence for the first time, revealing the early, intimate thoughts of a young man who was to become a literary icon.

Styron wrote his earliest letters from Davidson College, where he was very much unsure of himself and of his prospects in life. By the last few letters, however, he had achieved a great deal: he had earned a commission in the Marine Corps, survived World War II, published the novel Lie Down in Darkness (1951) and the novella The Long March (1953), and won the Prix de Rome. He had also recently married and was about to return to the United States from an expatriate period in Paris and Rome.

The letters constitute a portrait of the artist as a young man. They read like an epistolary novel, with movement from location to location and changes in voice and language. Styron was extremely close to his father and quite open with him. His story is a classic one, from youthful insecurity to artistic self-discovery, capped by recognition and success. There are challenges along the way for the hero--poor academic performance, a syphilis scare, writer's block, temporary frustration in romance. But Styron overcomes these difficulties and emerges as a confident young writer, ready to tackle his next project, the novel Set This House on Fire (1960).

Rose Styron, the author's widow, contributes a prefatory memoir of the senior Styron. West has provided comprehensive annotations to the correspondence, and the volume also has several illustrations, including facsimiles of some of the letters, which survive among Styron's papers at Duke University. Finally, there is a selection of Styron's apprentice fiction from the late 1940s and early 1950s.

In all of American literature, no other extended series of such letters--son to father--exists. Letters to My Father offers a unique glimpse into the formative years of one of the most admired and controversial writers of his time.

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After the great success in 1990 of Darkness Visible, his memoir of depression and recovery, William Styron wrote more frequently in an introspective, autobiographical mode. Havanas in Camelot brings together fourteen of his personal essays, including a reminiscence of his brief friendship with John F. Kennedy; memoirs of Truman Capote, James Baldwin, and Terry Southern; a meditation on Mark Twain; an account of Styron’s daily walks with his dog; and an evocation of his summer home on Martha’s Vineyard. These essays, which reveal a reflective and humorous side of Styron’s nature, make possible a fuller assessment of this enigmatic man of American letters....

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Before writing his memoir of madness, Darkness Visible, William Styron was best known for his ambitious works of fiction–including The Confessions of Nat Turner and Sophie’s Choice. Styron also created personal but no less powerful tales based on his real-life experiences as a U.S. Marine. The Suicide Run collects five of these meticulously rendered narratives. One of them–“Elobey, Annobón, and Corisco”–is published here for the first time.

In “Blankenship,” written in 1953, Styron draws on his stint as a guard at a stateside military prison at the end of World War II. “Marriott, the Marine” and “The Suicide Run”–which Styron composed in the early 1970s as part of an intended novel that he set aside to write Sophie’s Choice–depict the surreal experience of being conscripted a second time, after World War II, to serve in the Korean War. “My Father’s House” captures the isolation and frustration of a soldier trying to become a civilian again. In “Elobey, Annobón, and Corisco,” written late in Styron’s life, a soldier attempts to exorcise the dread of an approaching battle by daydreaming about far-off islands, visited vicariously through his childhood stamp collection.

Perhaps the last volume from one of literature’s greatest voices, The Suicide Run brings to life the drama, inhumanity, absurdity, and heroism that forever changed the men who served in the Marine Corps....

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In this brilliant collection of "long short stories, " the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Sophie's Choice returns to the coastal Virginia setting of his first novels. Through the eyes of a man recollecting three episodes from his youth, William Styron explores with new eloquence death, loss, war, and racism.


From the Trade Paperback edition....






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