Daily Archives: September 18, 2019

William Styron

 

DARKNESS VISIBLE: A MEMOIR OF MADNESS by William Styron (New York: Vintage Books), 1990, 84 pp.

 

HAVANAS IN CAMELOT: PERSONAL ESSAYS by William Styron (New York: Random House), 2008, 162 pp.

 

Two late autobiographical books by a writer I’ve always liked —- the first somewhat disappointing, perhaps because I came to it with the wrong expectations, the second a pleasurable surprise.

 

I guess what I was hoping to encounter in DARKNESS VISIBLE, Styron’s brief and somewhat sketchy account of his own excruciating bouts with depression in the 1980s, was some clarification or extension of what I found so powerful about his treatment of bipolar behavior in SOPHIE’S CHOICE (1979) -– specifically the depiction of Nathan, which seemed to derive from some deep personal understanding of this condition. But Styron points out early on that his own malady was “unipolar,” not the same thing at all. Still, I admire the scrupulous way he avoids leaping to too many conclusions about a condition that he’s still far from fully understanding.

 

The late essays collected in HAVANAS IN CAMELOT deal with such topics as a few amicable encounters with John F. Kennedy (the title essay), an apparent contraction of syphilis during his youth (as a fledgling Marine at a naval hospital in South Carolina), his friendships with fellow novelists (Truman Capote, James Baldwin, and Terry Southern), some late prostate trouble, and walks with his dog in his early 80s.Read more »

Lemming

  From the Chicago Reader (August 4, 2006). –J. R.

LemmingDVD

Lemmingad

Brilliantly conceived and competently executed, this disturbing psychological thriller by German-born French filmmaker Dominik Moll (With a Friend Like Harry) has been compared to David Lynch’s Lost Highway, in part because of its uncanny two-part construction. But it also suggests an original spin on Eyes Wide Shut in the unspoken understandings of its married couple (Laurent Lucas and Charlotte Gainsbourg) and its ambiguous mix of reality and fantasy. Andre Dussollier and Charlotte Rampling play another couple who arrive for a dinner party, and the unpredictable transactions among the four kept me engrossed and curious throughout. In French with subtitles. 129 min. Music Box.

lemming

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lemming-0Read more »