Speaking of Churchill’s “Black Dog”…

… 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.

Please read Wolcott’s piece! I love to read the letters of famous people. I look forward to reading Styron’s letters.

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4 Responses to Speaking of Churchill’s “Black Dog”…

  1. april says:

    And speaking of famous people’s letters, the only item on my Christmas list this year was the collection Rebecca West’s that you wrote about a few months ago… I am only halfway through, but already I can feel myself slowing down to make this wonderful experience last longer. What a woman! I keep having to remind myself that she was writing this stuff in the ’30s and ’40s, and not in the ’60s and ’70s. My head will probably explode by the time I get to the ones she actually wrote then…

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