Saturday, July 28, 2012

288 (2012 #33). Reading My Father

by Alexandra Styron,
read by the author

I purchased this audiobook for my library's collection after hearing about it during a Booklist "June is Audiobook Month"-type webinar last year.  As it's supposed to be about prize-winning author William Styron (Pulitzer for The Confessions of Nat Turner, National Book Award for Sophie's Choice), I thought it would be appropriate for a university library collection.

Trouble is, the senior Styron's youngest daughter (he was 41 when she was born) can't quite seem to decide if she is writing a memoir (as it says on the audiobook case), or a biography.  She tries to do both, being biographical especially during the first 50 years of her father's life, when she either wasn't there at all, or too young to remember much.

I knew nothing about Styron before listening to this audiobook, so this book did succeed in that I learned more about him.  However, by the end, I didn't really care about him, and  I think the book could be a disappointment to his fans.

William Styron apparently made life difficult for those around him with his clinical depression, but I really did not see him behaving much worse than many creative types, especially males of that era.  What I did notice was a lot of name-dropping in the book - Styron senior was apparently friends with the Kennedys and numerous celebrities, but Alexandra doesn't really have many interesting stories to tell about these friendships.

Alexandra Styron reads her book in a monotone.  This might have been intentional, to fit the detachment with which she tells her story, but it did make it hard to maintain my interest.  I'd recommend this book only to fans of her father, and in print form rather than audio.

© Amanda Pape - 2012

[This audiobook was borrowed from and returned to my university library.]

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