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Reading My Father: A Memoir

Reading My Father: A Memoir

Написано Alexandra Styron

Озвучено Alexandra Styron


Reading My Father: A Memoir

Написано Alexandra Styron

Озвучено Alexandra Styron

оценки:
4/5 (5 оценки)
Длина:
10 hours
Издатель:
Издано:
Apr 26, 2011
ISBN:
9781611745009
Формат:
Аудиокнига

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Описание

William Styron’s youngest child explores the life of a fascinating and difficult man whose own memoir, Darkness Visible, searingly chronicled his battle with major depression.

Alexandra Styron’s parents—the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Sophie’s Choice and his political activist wife, Rose—were, for half a century, leading players on the world’s cultural stage. Alexandra was raised under both the halo of her father’s brilliance and the long shadow of his troubled mind. From Styron’s youth and precocious literary debut to the triumphs of his best-known books and on through his spiral into depression, Reading My Father portrays the epic sweep of an American artist’s life. It is also a tale of filial love, beautifully written with humor, compassion, and grace.
Издатель:
Издано:
Apr 26, 2011
ISBN:
9781611745009
Формат:
Аудиокнига

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Об авторе

ALEXANDRA STYRON is the author of the novel All the Finest Girls and a graduate of Barnard College and the MFA program at Columbia University. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Vanity Fair, Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal, among other publications, and she has taught memoir writing in the MFA program at Hunter College. She lives with her husband and two children in Brooklyn, NY.


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  • (4/5)
    William Styron was a greatly flawed man shaped by promise and destroyed by clinical depression. This book shows how Styron's depression shaped his daughter to be a writer. The book was really depressing and not that much fun to read. However, if you want a book that examines the effect that psychological depression has on a family, it is a fine piece of writing.
  • (4/5)
    This is an elegant memoir of William Styron by his youngest child, whose meticulous research benefits from her personal memories and insights into his life.
  • (5/5)
    A vivid, poignant, and totally absorbing memoir.
  • (4/5)
    I kept getting the feeling of circling as I was reading this memoir, which is really a confusing combination of biography and memoir. It was as if Styron was going round and round, coming ever closer to describing her father from the inside out, but obscuring her own feelings by the biographical outside in approach. Her acknowledgement (in the Acknowledgements) that the book was originally a magazine piece partially explains this, but I still feel this ambivalent avoidance in her writing - which, at times, is stunning.The last third was so well done, so honest, so excoriating, that I almost forgot about my critique; and the end brought me to tears. Hard, therefore, to rate, but I guess it deserves a 4, if not more. Oh, but I forgot the name-dropping, which was highly irritating. No point, really, since they were just names in a list. Back down to a 4.
  • (3/5)
    I should probably admit up front that I've only read one book by William Styron, his much-acclaimed SOPHIE'S CHOICE. It was a book which easily held me in its thrall and I remember it as a beautifully written work. And I knew Styron continues to be held in some reverence by serious readers everywhere. So I was surprised to find various references here indicating that he felt a kind of failure, for having produced so few books in his lifetime. But he did win a Pulitzer and numerous other prestigious awards during his lifetime. Styron's daughter does manage to put her father's feelings of failure into the proper context of the mental illness and dark attraction to suicide that plagued him for much of his life, particularly for the last 15-20 years.Perhaps the main problem with this book was Alexandra Styron's seeming inability to decide if she was writing a memoir or a biography. The book ends up a kind of hybrid of the two, and simply doesn't work very well as either form. Perhaps the author's biggest obstacle to telling her father's story is the disparity in their ages. William Styron was 41 when Alexandra was born, several years after her three older siblings, and always remained 'the baby.' As such, with her brother and sisters already away in boarding schools and college during her childhood, she grew up an 'only child,' mostly left to her own devices, and could, arguably, be called both neglected and spoiled.The daughter admits she relied heavily on a previous bio of her dad, James L.W. West III's WILLIAM STYRON: A LIFE, for what she has to say about his early life, quite simply because she wasn't alive yet during the early books and successes. In fact, although the book is called READING MY FATHER, I'm not entirely sure he actually has read all of her dad's books. The only one she professes to have read is SOPHIE'S CHOICE, and that was after her own children were born and she was already in her thirties.What she does do is a whole lot of conspicuous name-dropping, and the names are indeed famous ones: Leonard Bernstein, James Jones, Norman Mailer, Philip Roth, Vladimir Horowitz, James Taylor (how'd HE get in there? I wondered), Vonnegut, all the Kennedys, Peter Matthiessen, George Plimpton, John Marquand, John Hersey, Dashel Hammet and Lillian Hellman, Art Buchwald, and the list goes on an on. The problem is she has a pitifully small store of stories to go with these famous names, I assume because, once again, she was too young - or oblivious - to remember much about them. They were just "daddy's friends." They do offer a certain 'proof' of Styron's overwhelming celebrity status, and I have no problem with the names. I was just frustrated that there was so little to go with the names. Matthiessen appeared to be one of the most steadfast and true of these many 'friends.'Unfortunately it takes nearly 200 pages for the author to hit her stride, where she finally begins to recount her own memories of her father (vs someone else's). Indeed a few brief quotes from her sister Susannah's journals about their dad's illness are more telling and striking than scores of pages here. But once Alexandra gets to her own adult years the narrative moves along at a brisk and compelling pace and she is quite blunt about her own continued mixed feelings about her father.Because despite the often muddled and disjointed telling in the early pages, it is quite clear that Styron was, for most of his youngest daughter's life, an absentee father, whether he was present or not. Always preoccupied with his writing, and then with his crippling depressions (which he turned into his bestselling brief memoir DARKNESS VISIBLE), he just never had much time for 'the baby.'A year or two ago I read another memoir by a daughter of a famous author, Janna Malamud Smith's MY FATHER IS A BOOK. There was much there about her dad and his books, but she kept it her own story. It was an excellent read. Alexandra Styron seems to have made peace with her father and her memories of him by the end of this book, and I'm glad for her. Personally however, I think if she had just told her own story - without all the research and agonizing over the meaning of her father's jumbled papers (stored in the Duke U archives), it would have been a better book. Although I came away with a slightly better appreciation for Styron, his work and his illness, except for the last 60-70 pages, it was a struggle to get through this book.