Conversations with William Styron

James L. West, Editor, William Styron, Author
James L. West, Editor, William Styron, Author University Press of Mississippi $46 (280p) ISBN 978-0-87805-260-8
Reviewed on: 11/01/1985
Release date: 11/01/1985
Only between the discussions of Lie Down in Darkness (1951) and The Confessions of Nat Turner (1967), does a definite William Styron begin to emerge from this collection of 25 interviews, originally published in the New York Times, Paris Review, etc. Early on, he seems tentative and takes great pains to portray himself as separate from the ""Southern tradition,'' and as a hard-drinking, ``writing is hell'' author. But, as his reputation grows, Styron's interviewers (and the colloquia in which he participates) give him the opportunity to be more expansive, and his conversation comes more and more to resemble the whirlwind of ideas and images that marks his prose. The controversy surrounding The Confessions of Nat Turner is well documented here (an exchange between Styron and a group of Black militants helps fix the tone of the time), as is the genesis of Sophie's Choice. And an extended conversation with Arthur Miller will intrigue scholars and casual readers alike. On balance, the same can be said of much of this collection. November
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