In his slim but by no means slight memoir, William Styron stresses: “The disease of depression remains a great mystery.” What is striking about Darkness Visible is how clearly and eloquently Styron is able to describe such a perplexing disease. Likening the illness to “a veritable howling tempest in the brain,” he chronicles his descent into the abyss of depression with a nakedness that is hard to look away from. Anyone who has grappled with mental illness (either personally or with a loved one) will find passages that not only resonate but have a healing, embracing effect, as Styron gracefully puts into words what so many find to be unspeakable pain. Recommended By Renee P., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
A work of great personal courage and a literary tour de force, this bestseller is Styron's true account of his descent into a crippling and almost suicidal depression. Styron is perhaps the first writer to convey the full terror of depression's psychic landscape, as well as the illuminating path to recovery.
"Written by one whose book-learning proves a match for his misery, the memoir travels fastidiously over perilous ground, receiving intimations of mortality and reckoning delicately with them. Always clarifying his demons, never succumbing to them in his prose, Styron's neat, tight narrative carries the bemusement of the worldly wise suddenly set off-course and the hard-won wisdom therein." Publishers Weekly
"Compelling...[A] vivid portrait of a debilitating disorder...[O]ffers the solace of shared experience." The New York Times
"A chilling yet hopeful report from a mental wilderness into which one in ten Americans disappears...[F]ascinating." Chicago Sun-Times
About the Author
William Styron was born in 1925 in Newport News, Virginia. He served in the United States Marine Corps during World War II and again for a year during the Korean War. Between his two periods in the Marines he completed his studies at Duke University and wrote his first novel, Lie Down in Darkness, which won the 1951 Prix de Rome of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Styron lived for a short time in Paris, where he wrote his novel The Long March (1953) and participated in founding the literary magazine The Paris Review, of which he is still an advisory editor. He is the author of three more novels, Set This House on Fire (1960), The Confessions of Nat Turner, which won the 1967 Pulitzer Prize, and Sophie's Choice (1979); a play, "In the Clap Shack" (1973); and an essay dealing with depression, Darkness Visible (1990). This Quiet Dust, a collection of nonfiction pieces, was published in 1982. His most recent book, a collection of three stories written when he was a young man, was A Tidewater Morning. As well as the Pulitzer and the Prix de Rome, Styron is the recipient of the National Book Award, the Howells Medal, and the Edward MacDowell Medal.