Selected Letters of William Styron
In this masterful collection of William Styron's correspondence edited by his widow, Rose, with the literary scholar R. Blakeslee Gilpin, Styron often discusses how he has to force himself to undertake the "tedious and agonizing process" of writing, but write he did--and, boy, could he write letters: witty, sarcastic, bawdy, loving, long.
Many letters went to writer-friends--Philip Roth, James Jones, James Baldwin, Donald Harington, Peter Matthiessen--but most are to Pop, the father he deeply loved and whose opinion he cherished.
We see Styron as a young editor in New York City, living in a "gloomy dung-heap down in the village" and turning down manuscripts, including Kon-Tiki (he didn't think anyone would read it). Fired from that position, he tells Pop about starting his first novel, Lie Down in Darkness: "I hope when I'm finished with it people will read it." They did, of course, and the reviews were positive.
In 1952, he writes to Pop about a new novel he's undertaken: "The subject fascinates me." The Confessions of Nat Turner receives accolades, too, but also criticism from black writers; letters reveal how much that hurt the author. Subsequent letters chart the birth and growth of Sophie's Choice. Styron's later years were plagued with a suicidal depression that forced him "to the very edge of the abyss." To his surprise, Darkness Visible, his "slender little volume about lunacy," became one of his most popular books.
Selected Letters of William Styron reveals a hard worker, faithful friend and supporter of young writers. These beautifully edited letters will provide hours of laughter, surprise and learning. --Tom Lavoie, former publisher