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Posts Tagged ‘William Styron’

William Styron in Letters, Part 5

December 7, 2012 | by

To George Plimpton

December 1, 1953 Ravello, Italy

Dear George:

Herewith the interview, revised and expanded. I think that in the future it might be a good idea for you to get a tape-recorder for these darn things, because it’s a bitch of a job for the interviewee to edit his own words. Now you will note that I did not completely eliminate all the first part; as a matter of fact I retained the bulk of it, but made quite a few changes and emendations. I think it’s better now, certainly printable. Besides all the additions, you will notice I made a few eliminations. I cut out a few of the cuss-words, which were all too abundant. I cut out the cracks against little Truman and Anthony West, who God knows deserves them, but they seemed a little in poor taste. I also tempered my criticism of Faulkner. I have tried to keep the tone impersonal and conversational throughout, and I think that I’ve succeeded.

You will notice, too, that I’ve taken your suggestion and have added quite a bit toward the end. I hope you will find the questions—some of which are yours—and answers suitable; at least the piece is considerably lengthened, and I’ve gotten off my chest a few things I’ve wanted to say. One important thing is that I think you must somehow invent a little atmosphere to surround the piece. It’s mighty bare without any stage directions, and I think if you place the thing right where the original interview started, in the Café Select, or some equivalent, it will provide a suitably bibulous background.

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William Styron in Letters, Part 3

December 5, 2012 | by

William and Rose Styron.

To Norman Mailer

June 1, 1953 Rome, Italy

Dear Norman:

I note that you began your last letter: “I’ve been kind of depressed lately,” and by way of preface to this letter I should say that I’ve been both depressed and elated since you last heard from me—elated at having just married a most admirable girl (perhaps you’ve gotten an announcement) and depressed because for roughly your own sort of reasons—an inability to get going again at this writing game. To complicate the situation, a few days ago, barreling down the Autostrada in an effort to catch up with Irwin Shaw’s Ford convertible (we had been on a two-car picnic at Angio) I smacked into a motorscooter going full tilt and glued an Italian all over the front end of my car. The guy was made of brick and will survive with nothing more than lacerations, and fortunately for the legal end of the thing it was his own fault (he was a moron, for one thing, and for another had been driving with a glass eye) but such incidents always leave me spookily aware of just how vulnerable we all are. Perhaps they’re valuable as such from an ah-tistic point of view, but I doubt it.

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William Styron in Letters, Part 2

December 4, 2012 | by

Rose Burgunder and William Styron.

To John P. Marquand, Jr.

April 17, 1953 Rome, Italy

Dear Jack:

I received your telegram, and I must say that Rose and I feel that there would be nothing more delightful than to play Byron with you for a while, and we were especially intrigued by the line which said a special tour was being arranged, or would be arranged, “in our honor,” which conjured up visions of open, bullet-proof sedans, police escorts, and jonquils being thrown into our faces by a frantic populace. It would indeed be nice. But we have talked this thing over and have decided that in view of the fact that we will probably be getting married within the next few weeks, and that Rose’s brother and wife are expected at any moment, it would put a strain on our nervous resources to come, at least my nervous resources, already depleted by a soggy, constant drunkenness brought on in part by the prospect of marriage, by insomnia, by clots, and by a general spiritual enervation resulting from the realization that already, going on 28, I am a wash-up as a writer and fit only to do the “Recent & Readable” part of the book section in Time. In other words, I will be going through a crisis this spring and although I don’t doubt that Greece is an excellent place to weather such a storm, I hope you can understand my position. I hope also, by the way, that when you finish diddling your Greek lady-in-waiting you will come back to Rome in time to take part in the shoddy ceremony which is due to be enacted in the city hall. That will be some time toward the end of this month, no doubt, or the first week or so in May.

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William Styron in Letters

December 3, 2012 | by

“A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end,” explained William Styron in his 1954 Art of Fiction interview. “You live several lives while reading it. Its writer should, too.” Such is the experience in reading Styron’s Selected Letters, edited by Rose Styron, with R. Blakeslee Gilpin, and published this week. Alongside major cultural and political events of the latter half of the twentieth century are intimate accounts of family life, depression, writing, frustrations, and friendships.

Of his many lives, Styron may be best remembered in this office for his influence on the early years of The Paris Review. It is awfully fun to see those moments surface in his correspondence, and our selection was made with those moments in mind. Look for a new letter each day this week.

To Dorothy Parker

July 19, 1952 Paris, France

Honeybunch darling—the story is, I believe, coming along just dandy and my pretty much night and day work on it is the main reason I haven’t written you before this. It is now between 11,000 and 12,000 words, which I figure is about two-thirds complete. It has some really good—fine—things in it so far, and I think it will be even better when it’s finished. In fact I think I can say it has some of my best writing in it and will make stories by people like Hemingway and Turgenev pale in comparison. That sounds a bit like what Hemingway would say, doesn’t it? Read More »

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Memoir of Memoir of a Gambler

October 1, 2012 | by

There were few places on the ship less conducive to reading than the library. In the summer of 2000, in my early twenties, I was stationed aboard an aircraft carrier. The library sat directly beneath the flight deck, which means that in addition to the thump, rattle, and screech of the planes as they landed, there was the heat from the catapults and their fuel, a heat so thick it invaded your respiration like some perniciously odorless fume, trespassing on your psyche and then inhabiting it. Reading there was out of the question, but we weren’t on the ship to read. Which is why it always surprised me how many great books they had in that library.

I found one of the greatest purely by chance. I knew neither the book, Memoir of a Gambler, nor its author, Jack Richardson. It was the title that hooked me. Our ship would soon be returning to San Diego, after a six-month cruise throughout the Pacific Ocean and Arabian Sea, and so I knew I would soon be gambling again. Having already become a devotee of the sports-gambling culture of San Diego—or, more specifically, its adjunct playground of Tijuana—I needed little encouragement. But in the book I now held in my hands, I would find plenty of encouragement anyway.

On the cover, this Jack Richardson struck a classically arch pose, arms crossed in a subdued brown sport coat and vest, staring self-importantly into the camera; beside him, on a circular bar-table sat a gleaming, thickly cut glass ashtray, a lone cigarillo perched on its edge. The back cover featured a blurb from William Styron (a notoriously selective blurber, even on behalf of friends), proclaiming, “Jack Richardson is a wonderful writer and his book is a powerful portrayal of one man’s obsession—sad, hilarious, erotic, and, above all, pitilessly honest. I read Memoir of a Gambler with fascination and delight.” The bio inside the back flap revealed that the author was a distinguished playwright who had also written for many of the magazines I cherished most, and then, on the copyright page, a partial explanation for why I did not recognize him from any of those magazines: “Copyright ©1979.”

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Amie Barrodale Wins Plimpton Prize; Adam Wilson Wins Terry Southern Prize for Humor

March 13, 2012 | by

Amie Barrodale.

On Tuesday, April 3, The Paris Review will honor two of our favorite young writers.

Amie Barrodale will receive the Review’s Plimpton Prize for “Wiliam Wei,” which appeared in our Summer issue.

Adam Wilson will receive the second Terry Southern Prize for Humor for his story “What’s Important Is Feeling” and his contributions to The Paris Review Daily.

The Plimpton Prize for Fiction is a $10,000 award given to a new voice published in The Paris Review. The prize is named for the Review’s longtime editor George Plimpton and reflects his commitment to discovering new writers of exceptional merit. The winner is chosen by the Board of the Review. This year’s prize will be presented by Mona Simpson.

Adam Wilson.

The Terry Southern Prize for Humor is a $5,000 award recognizing wit, panache, and sprezzatura in work published by The Paris Review or online by the Daily. Perhaps best known as the screenwriter behind Dr. Strangelove and Easy Rider—and the subject of an interview in issue 200!—Terry Southern was also a satirical novelist, a pioneering New Journalist, and a driving force behind the early Paris Review. Comedian David Cross will present this year’s award.

The honoree of this year’s Revel is Robert Silvers. Zadie Smith will present Silvers with the 2012 Hadada, the Review’s lifetime achievement award recognizing a “strong and unique contribution to literature.” Previous recipients of the Hadada include James Salter, John Ashbery, Joan Didion, Norman Mailer, Peter Matthiessen, George Plimpton (posthumously), Barney Rosset, Philip Roth, and William Styron.

Come help us celebrate our honorees and our two hundredth issue—and support the Review. Buy your Revel tickets now!

 

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