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William Styron: A Life

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William Styron: A Life

Current Status:
In Season
James L. W. West III

We gave it a B

Occasional fawning mars this otherwise mesmerizing authorized biography of Styron, the Southern writer who transcended his Faulknerian roots with the classic Holocaust novel Sophie’s Choice. West’s overly reverential stance in William Styron: A Life begins with an extraneous genealogy linking his 72-year-old subject to various medieval Viking warriors. He also accords little objectivity to Styron’s controversial writings on slavery. But by detailing his four decades in suburban Connecticut, his feud with Norman Mailer, and the debilitating depression he depicted in his 1990 Darkness Visible, West captures the conflicts roiling beneath the ”regular and orderly” surface of Styron’s life.