Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Book Review: "Lie Down in Darkness" by William Styron

I recently read an interview with an author I like who indicated that Styron was his favorite author and writing inspiration. I love Southern fiction and Southern language, but I generally steer away from literary fiction which I often find pretentious. I decided to read it if for no other reason than because it's a classic and because Styron's known for his great writing.

This book is dated in many ways. It has been a long time since I read a book where white people used the “N” word so freely. It was depressing and sad and there was not one character I liked. Reading the story was painful, but I couldn't make myself quit, even though it took me three weeks to read it because I kept having to put it aside because it was too sad.  I stuck with it to the end only because the language was so utterly magnificent.  That is all there is to say about that.

I'm glad I read it. It is a classic for two reasons. It nails a slice of Southern culture that existed prior to the Civil Rights movement with microscopic detail.  And, the prose is so perfect it left me breathless at times.    

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