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A Resonance for William Styron

Gabriele Annan, 7 November 1985

Savage Grace 
by Natalie Robins and Steven Aronson.
Gollancz, 473 pp., £10.95, October 1985, 0 575 03738 5
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... There are some known names: Cecil Beaton, Jasper Johns, James Jones, John Mortimer, Patricia Neal, William Styron, Andy Warhol. Among the rest are antique dealers, decorators, magazine editors, a ‘freelance music co-ordinator for fashion shows’, a princess ‘internationally concerned with matters of spiritual evolution’, an extraordinarily large ...

I adore your moustache

James Wolcott: Styron’s Letters, 24 January 2013

Selected Letters of William Styron 
edited by Rose Styron and R. Blakeslee Gilpin.
Random House, 643 pp., £24.99, December 2012, 978 1 4000 6806 7
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... subject to bring up with him, but it didn’t interest him very much. All the while, host Bill Styron looking a bit subdued as usual these days; we talked about Randall Jarrell’s possible suicide, Bill’s own depression. And I talked to him about William James’s own breakdown and his resuscitation through ...

McGahern’s Ireland

D.J. Enright, 8 November 1979

The Pornographer 
by John McGahern.
Faber, 252 pp., £4.95
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... William Styron is reported as defending the sexual activity in his recent Sophie’s Choice on the grounds that ‘the battle to write explicitly about sex was fought long and hard. We must never begin to surrender that victory.’ The argument strikes one as considerably less silly when removed to the context of John McGahern’s fiction ...

Literary Supplements

Karl Miller, 21 March 1991

by Denis Donoghue.
Cape, 193 pp., £12.99, March 1991, 0 224 03084 1
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Darkness Visible 
by William Styron.
Cape, 84 pp., £8.99, March 1991, 0 224 03045 0
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... that anti-semitism has been, among other things, Christian. ‘I could never understand how William Empson, a poet and critic I revere, could hate Christians and especially Catholics, thinking their religion nothing but a sordid cult of blood and sacrifice. Christ’s blood was the form of his own suffering, he didn’t recommend bloodletting for other ...

In qualified praise of Stephen Vizinczey

Bryan Appleyard, 24 July 1986

Truth and Lies in Literature: Reviews and Essays 
by Stephen Vizinczey.
Hamish Hamilton, 399 pp., £12.95, June 1986, 0 241 11805 0
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In Praise of Older Women: The Amorous Recollections of A.V. 
by Stephen Vizinczey.
Hamish Hamilton, 192 pp., £8.95, February 1985, 0 241 11378 4
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... He has views, he shouts, cajoles, threatens and sneers. He worships Kleist and Stendhal, loathes William Styron and Sainte-Beuve, is conspicuously silent about Flaubert and seems to have a love-hate relationship with Nabokov. He delights in summoning up his rhetoric of loathing for the Nazis and the Mafia and in distilling hard, frequently paradoxical ...


Ian Hamilton: New New Grub Street, 3 February 1983

... supper they gave in 1957, for example, was attended by Norman Mailer, Katherine Anne Porter and William Styron.’ The authors call people who want to know this kind of thing ‘literary travellers’ and they plead that such travellers have in the past been handicapped by the lack of a guidebook that covered the whole of the United States. Well, I’m ...

From under the Duvet

Anna Vaux, 4 September 1997

Out Of Me: The Story of a Postnatal Breakdown 
by Fiona Shaw.
Viking, 224 pp., £15.99, April 1997, 0 670 87104 4
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... and compares herself to Elizabeth Bishop, Sylvia Plath, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Margery Kempe, William Styron. Significantly, the book she finds most helpful is The Words to Say It by Marie Cardinal, an account of her breakdown which Cardinal has since admitted to making up. It doesn’t matter, Shaw says, if Cardinal invented it all. What matters is ...

Full of Hell

Fatema Ahmed: James Salter, 5 February 2004

by James Salter.
Harvill, 208 pp., £10.99, August 2003, 1 86046 925 6
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Light Years 
by James Salter.
Vintage, 320 pp., £6.99, August 2003, 0 09 945022 4
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... In his memoir, Burning the Days (1997), James Salter tells a story about an encounter between William Faulkner and an officer from the local airbase in Greenville, Mississippi in the early 1950s. They talk of the excitement of flying, and Faulkner drunkenly reminisces about his days as a pilot in France during the First World War ...

Living It

Andrew O’Hagan: The World of Andy McNab, 24 January 2008

by Andy McNab.
Bantam, 414 pp., £17.99, October 2007, 978 1 84413 535 6
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Strike Back 
by Chris Ryan.
Century, 314 pp., £17.99, October 2007, 978 1 84413 535 6
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... Curriculum, and Evelyn Waugh saw the possibility of comedy in the matter before anybody else, his William Boot a writer keen to make the rat-tat-tat of his typewriter fall into sync with the sound of gunfire over the hill. In America, a season in France or a period in the foothills of Spain was once thought to be a rite of passage for a first-rate writer of ...

Imaginary Homelands

Salman Rushdie, 7 October 1982

... to approach from the outside. (Just one example of this latter category: Sophie’s Choice, by William Styron, a book which seems wholly to justify its use of Auschwitz, even though Styron is not a Jew, let alone a survivor of the Holocaust.) Literature is not in the business of copyrighting certain themes for ...

Du Maurier: A Lament

Jeremy Harding, 24 March 1994

Cigarettes Are Sublime 
by Richard Klein.
Duke, 210 pp., £19.95, February 1994, 0 8223 1401 0
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... the author follows the glow in the dark across the work of several novelists – Remarque, Mailer, William Styron, Hemingway – confirms this. ‘I have noted all the cigarettes that are crushed out, thrown away or unlit at night, shared and hoarded, detested and loved – instruments of torture and surgery, tokens of friendship and signs of love – in ...

Terror on the Vineyard

Terry Castle: Boss Ladies, Watch Out!, 15 April 1999

A Likely Story: One Summer with Lillian Hellman 
by Rosemary Mahoney.
Doubleday, 273 pp., $23.95, November 1998, 9780385479318
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... claimed she would never say’); her cheating at Scrabble (during games with her neighbour Rose Styron she routinely peeks at Styron’s letters whenever Styron leaves the room); the malicious remarks she makes about friends and houseguests as soon as they are out of earshot (Joseph ...

The Last Witness

Colm Tóibín: The career of James Baldwin, 20 September 2001

... treatment of religion and a Harlem only barely understood south of 125th Street, was compared to William James and William Faulkner. In Paris in 1950 Baldwin had read A Portrait of the Artist and its hero’s story was not lost on him. The need to do battle with religion and his own oppressed nation, some of whose members ...

Just like Mother

Theo Tait: Richard Yates, 6 February 2003

Collected Stories 
by Richard Yates.
Methuen, 474 pp., £17.99, January 2002, 0 413 77125 3
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Revolutionary Road 
by Richard Yates.
Methuen, 346 pp., £6.99, February 2001, 0 413 75710 2
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The Easter Parade 
by Richard Yates.
Methuen, 226 pp., £10, January 2003, 0 413 77202 0
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... tirade. With Revolutionary Road, many of his contemporaries – including Kurt Vonnegut and William Styron – felt that he did something comparable for an entire generation; that he saw the cracks in the 1950s. In 1956, William H. Whyte Jr, a Fortune magazine journalist and Max Weber fan, published The ...

Get a Real Degree

Elif Batuman, 23 September 2010

The Programme Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing 
by Mark McGurl.
Harvard, 480 pp., £25.95, April 2009, 978 0 674 03319 1
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... years.One example is McGurl’s discussion of ‘meta-slave narrative’, a genre illustrated by William Styron’s Confessions of Nat Turner (1967), the first-person novelisation of a historical account left by a rebel slave awaiting execution. By ‘refusing the perspectival limitations imposed by his own whiteness,’ McGurl claims, ...

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