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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.
The classic tragedy of Peyton Loftis, her corrupt and loving father, her unforgiving mother, and her pathetic sister
In The Long March, two Marine reservists fight to maintain their dignity while on a hard exercise staged by a posturing colonel. In the Clap Shack maps the terrified passage of a young recruit through the prurient inferno of a Navy hospital VD ward.
In 1950, at the age of twenty-four, William Clark Styron, Jr., wrote to his mentor, Professor William Blackburn of Duke University. The young writer was struggling with his first novel, Lie Down in Darkness, and he was nervous about whether his "strain and toil" would amount to anything. "When I mature and broaden," Styron told Blackburn, "I expect to use the language on as exalted and elevated a level as I can sustain. I believe that a writer should accommodate language to his own peculiar personality, and mine wants to use great words, evocative words, when the situation demands them." In February 1952, Styron was awarded the Prix de Rome of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, which crowned him a literary star. In Europe, Styron met and married Rose Burgunder, and found himself immersed in a new generation of expatriate writers. His relationships with George Plimpton and Peter Matthiessen culminated in Styron introducing the debut issue of The Paris Review. Literary critic Alfred Kazin described him as one of the postwar "super-egotists" who helped transform American letters. His controversial The Confessions of Nat Turner won the 1968 Pulitzer Prize, while Sophie's Choice was awarded the 1980 National Book Award, and Darkness Visible, Styron's groundbreaking recounting of his ordeal with depression, was not only a literary triumph, but became a landmark in the field. Part and parcel of Styron's literary ascendance were his friendships with Norman Mailer, James Baldwin, John and Jackie Kennedy, Arthur Miller, James Jones, Carlos Fuentes, Wallace Stegner, Robert Penn Warren, Philip Roth, C. Vann Woodward, and many of the other leading writers and intellectuals of the second half of the twentieth century. This incredible volume takes readers on an American journey from FDR to George W. Bush through the trenchant observations of one of the country's greatest writers. Not only will readers take pleasure in William Styron's correspondence with and commentary about the people and events that made the past century such a momentous and transformative time, they will also share the writer's private meditations on the very art of writing.Advance praise for Selected Letters of William Styron "I first encountered Bill Styron when, at twenty, I read The Confessions of Nat Turner. Hillary and I became friends with Bill and Rose early in my presidency, but I continued to read him, fascinated by the man and his work, his triumphs and troubles, the brilliant lights and dark corners of his amazing mind. These letters, carefully and lovingly selected by Rose, offer real insight into both the great writer and the good man."--President Bill Clinton"The Bill Styron revealed in these letters is altogether the Bill Styron who was a dear friend and esteemed colleague to me for close to fifty years. The humor, the generosity, the loyalty, the self-awareness, the commitment to literature, the openness, the candor about matters closest to him--all are on display in this superb selection of his correspondence. The directness in the artful sentences is such that I felt his beguiling presence all the while that I was enjoying one letter after another."--Philip Roth "Bill Styron's letters were never envisioned, far less composed, as part of the Styron oeuvre, yet that is what they turn out to be. Brilliant, passionate, eloquent, insightful, moving, dirty-minded, indignant, and hilarious, they accumulate power in the reading, becoming in themselves a work of literature."--Peter MatthiessenFrom the Hardcover edition.
Set This House on Fire is a story of evil and redemption involving three American men whose paths converge on a film shoot in Italy at the close of the 1940s. Shortly after Peter Leverett meets Mason Flagg in a small Italian village, a woman is found raped and murdered. The investigation soon centers on the mysterious circumstances involving Mason and an alcoholic painter named Cass Kinsolving. Peter's attempts to uncover the true events of that fateful night will reveal the profound wickedness of one man and lead another on a path to absolution. The novel features the rich prose, penetrating psychological insight, and moral complexity that define Styron's works. Haunting and provocative, Set This House on Fire is a riveting exploration of sin and atonement set against the lushly crafted backdrops of Europe and the American South.
A classic novel of love, survival, and regret set in Brooklyn in the wake of the Second World War centering on three characters: Stingo, a sexually frustrated aspiring novelist; Nathan, his charismatic but violent Jewish neighbor; and Sophie, an Auschwitz survivor who is Nathan's lover. Poetic in its execution and epic in its emotional sweep, Sophie's Choice explores the good and evil of humanity through Stingo's burgeoning worldliness, Nathan's volatile personality, and Sophie's tragic past.
The four narratives which make up this posthumous collection draw upon William Styron's experiences in the US Marine Corps, and give us an insight into the early life of one of America's greatest modern writers. William Styron earned a commission as second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1945, shortly after his twentieth birthday. He was scheduled to participate in the assault on mainland Japan, most likely as the leader of a mortar platoon, but in early August the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ending the war. Before he was discharged Styron served a six-week stint as an officer at the military prison on Harts Island in Long Island Sound. In December 1945 he was mustered out of the Marine Corps, and lived with his father and stepmother at their home in Newport News, Virginia, before completing his bachelor degree at Duke University and embarking on his first novel, Lie Down in Darkness. Early in 1951, as he was composing the last two chapters of his manuscript, Styron was recalled into the Marine Corps for service in Korea. The stories of The Suicide Run are set in the grueling camps and sweltering training fields that marked the limbo point between civilian life and the horrors of war. Fictional yet autobiographical, the narratives of this collection focus on young men who, broiling in the claustrophobia of military life, always conscious of the imminence of action, try to maintain their sanity in the wake of their abrupt removal from normal life. In The Suicide Run, two young men at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina embark on suicidal 36 hour leave periods Â- crossing the 500 miles to New York and back at breakneck speed for a few hours with their mistresses and a reprieve from the 'sexual famine' of army life. In Blankenship a young idealist and deserter at a military prison hits a nerve in a model officer, with disastrous consequences for both, and in My Father's House, the young protagonist returns home from war to be met by the cold war of his stepmother's disapproval, and be haunted by all the battles he almost fought. Imbued with a sense of frustration and looming fear, keenly rendered in Styron's pithy and acutely observational prose, this collection is a fascinating insight into military life and the 'mysterious community of men' that comprises the US Marine Corps, and a posthumous glimpse into the mind of a mighty writer.
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.<P> 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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