… which I always seem to be doing these days, no surprise there, here is a terrific review by James Wolcott in London Review of Books of the collected letters of William Styron. I have written before about Styron’s searing “depression memoir”, Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness (here, here, and probably elsewhere.) I have read all of Styron’s novels, and agree with Wolcott’s assessments of their strengths and weaknesses (“My own problem with Styron’s ennobled potboilers was not his subject matter, point of view, historical accuracy, pale-male effrontery or any other heavy carbs, but the sheer awful self-conscious succulence of the prose, a fruit orchard in every scene-painting description.” or – even better: “grandiloquent gunk”). I found the novels interesting (Styron always took on big topics, that pissed nearly everybody off, repeatedly), but Darkness Visible (the prose anyway, never mind the subject matter and the fact that it’s a madness memoir) is far superior to the novels. Nothing else he wrote sounds like that slim searing and truthful book.