Sunday, September 29, 2013

Facing the Sad Music....

(Calm down: it's a book report). I read "Lie Down in Darkness" by William Styron, and I've been dreading telling you about it. The author wrote three major, acclaimed novels: this one in 1951-ish, "Sophie's Choice", which I could not finish, and an opus on the slave revolt of Nat Turner. He also wrote numerous articles and critiques. So I'll start with what I liked: He's an evocative descriptive creator of wonderful scenes and settings. The first few pages puts you aboard a steam-powered train in the American south in the 1940's with every sense you have. What it was like, the look, the smell, the company, the exhaustion. The train, ultimately, is very important to the story. The description of the scenes of tidewater Virginia are wonderful; the author's love for his home country apparent. The pre-Civil Rights Era African-American characters are beautifully drawn. The White People suck. The story is a huge downer. The wealthy white family is degraded with mental illness, alcohol, adultery,and the other "A",(forbidden in print at that time, but hinted at) and about every other problem known to post-WWII except hard drugs. We already know what happened: the family's star-daughter has killed herself after an unsuccessful marriage, and the coffin containing her remains is on its way home: the rest of the story is handled in flash-backs and narratives. Read it for the writing; tho it could have used a bit of editing. It will make you think. I'm not saying you will like what it makes you think about; but you will think. And Styron is correct: Army Brats can be crazy.

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