Reading My Father by Alexandra Styron
A Memoir

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Synopsis

PART MEMOIR AND PART ELEGY, READING MY FATHER IS THE STORY OF A DAUGHTER COMING TO KNOW HER FATHER AT LAST— A GIANT AMONG TWENTIETH-CENTURY AMERICAN NOVELISTS AND A MAN WHOSE DEVASTATING DEPRESSION DARKENED THE FAMILY LANDSCAPE.

In Reading My Father, William Styron’s youngest child explores the life of a fascinating and difficult man whose own memoir, Darkness Visible, so 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.

A drinker, a carouser, and above all “a high priest at the altar of fiction,” Styron helped define the concept of The Big Male Writer that gave so much of twentieth-century American fiction a muscular, glamorous aura. In constant pursuit of The Great Novel, he and his work were the dominant force in his family’s life, his turbulent moods the weather in their ecosystem.

From Styron’s Tidewater, Virginia, 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, offering a ringside seat on a great literary generation’s friendships and their dramas. It is also a tale of filial love, beautifully written, with humor, compassion, and grace.
 

About Alexandra Styron

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Alexandra Styron holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from Columbia University. All the Finest Girls is her first book.
 
Published April 19, 2011 by Scribner. 309 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Reading My Father

Kirkus Reviews

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William Styron's daughter recalls her love-hate relationship with the literary lion.

Apr 05 2011 | Read Full Review of Reading My Father: A Memoir

The New York Times

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Alexandra Styron writes of growing up with a novelist who had a charmed social circle and difficult personality.

Apr 19 2011 | Read Full Review of Reading My Father: A Memoir

The New York Times

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William Styron’s daughter tells what it was like to live with her famous father’s depression and paranoia.

Apr 22 2011 | Read Full Review of Reading My Father: A Memoir

The Wall Street Journal

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He tried to warn her away, saying that while Styron had become "spoiled," he was also "a real writer, a real artist .

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The Wall Street Journal

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In a memoir of life with William Styron, one of his daughters reports on her terrified youth and his sad old age

Apr 23 2011 | Read Full Review of Reading My Father: A Memoir

NPR

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NPR coverage of Reading My Father by Alexandra Styron. News, author interviews, critics' picks and more.

Apr 19 2011 | Read Full Review of Reading My Father: A Memoir

Book Reporter

Halfway through READING MY FATHER, Alexandra Styron discusses Daniel.

May 16 2011 | Read Full Review of Reading My Father: A Memoir

The Washington Times

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Look closely at the 1970s-era jacket photograph selected for Alexandra Styron's memoir. Seated in what appears to be the den of her family home, a girl of about 7, tangle-haired and pretty, gazes with a loving smile at her daddy, novelist William Styron (1925-2006).

Apr 29 2011 | Read Full Review of Reading My Father: A Memoir

Entertainment Weekly

Intellectual, passionate, and infantile.'' She draws subtle comparisons to other giants of her father's literary fraternity — pugnacious, capricious, and sometimes cruel men like Norman Mailer and Arthur Miller — to outline the question at the heart of her reflection: Is his art enough of an excu...

Apr 07 2011 | Read Full Review of Reading My Father: A Memoir

Los Angeles Times

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A daughter's portrait of her novelist father, William Styron, is by turns riveting and heart-rending.

May 01 2011 | Read Full Review of Reading My Father: A Memoir

The Telegraph

And one can’t help but think that Styron, whose fiction turned brutal truths into beauty, would have approved of his daughter’s .

Jul 29 2011 | Read Full Review of Reading My Father: A Memoir

The Columbus Dispatch

Columbus, Ohio • .

Apr 25 2011 | Read Full Review of Reading My Father: A Memoir

Macleans

Although we never get to what feels like the deep truth of the gigantic Styron hurt in these periods—Alexandra writes that in her youth, she “shut down” from her father with a near-autistic fierceness—her last years with her father, who died of pneumonia in 2006, after a messy, ugly 20-year battl...

Apr 27 2011 | Read Full Review of Reading My Father: A Memoir

Bookmarks Magazine

The only reviewer who seemed to take exception with Reading My Father was novelist Winston Groom, who wrote in the Wall Street Journal that the Styron of the book did not seem consistent with the man he knew.

May 10 2011 | Read Full Review of Reading My Father: A Memoir

Story Circle Book Reviews

In a letter that nineteen-year-old Alexandra Styron wrote to her father (the first she suddenly realized that she had ever written to him) she captures the feelings that still clearly exist these many years later.

May 12 2011 | Read Full Review of Reading My Father: A Memoir

Reader Rating for Reading My Father
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