William Styron died today at the age of 81. Doc Koon, my favorite professor when I went through my Masters prgogram often referred to him as a "Golden God."
I have read three of his books,all of which I just relished: The Confessions of Nat Turner, Sophie's Choice, and Darkness Visible. Each of them reads like the writer is on a mission from God.
The Confessions of Nat Turner examined a slave revolt in the Sotuh before the Civil War. It was a work of fiction, imagining much of the story it told, but it was brilliant.
Sophie's Choise of course told a multi-layered story about a Polish death camp survivor. Just when you thought Sophie's story couldn't get worse, Styron would clobber you with another smack-to-the-head moment.
Darkness Visible told Styron's story of his own battles with depression. A very short book, it also discussed several other writers and celebrities who suffered--and succumbed--to the illness.
One of my pompous-ass theories is that most great writers have one great book in them. Rarely do they have more. There are exceptions, of course. Styron was one of them.