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Reading My Father: A Memoir | [Alexandra Styron]

Reading My Father: A Memoir

Alexandra Styron's parents—the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Sophie’s Choice and his political activist wife, Rose—were, for half a century, leading players on the world’s cultural stage. Alexandra was raised under both the halo of her father’s brilliance and the long shadow of his troubled mind. Reading My Father portrays the epic sweep of an American artist’s life. It is also a tale of filial love, beautifully written with humor, compassion, and grace.
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Publisher's Summary

Alexandra Styron's parents—the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Sophie’s Choice and his political activist wife, Rose—were, for half a century, leading players on the world’s cultural stage. Alexandra was raised under both the halo of her father’s brilliance and the long shadow of his troubled mind. From Styron’s youth and precocious literary debut to the triumphs of his best-known books and on through his spiral into depression, Reading My Father portrays the epic sweep of an American artist’s life. It is also a tale of filial love, beautifully written with humor, compassion, and grace.

©2011 Original material by Alexandra Styron. Recorded by arrangement with Scribner, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. (P)2011 HighBridge Company

What the Critics Say

“Readers passionate about American literature will be fascinated by Alexandra’s insightful tales about her complicated father and his circle, which included Peter Matthiessen, Norman Mailer, and Arthur Miller.” (Booklist)

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3.8 (41 )
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  •  
    Douglas Auburn, WA, United States 12-22-13
    Douglas Auburn, WA, United States 12-22-13 Member Since 2008

    College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.

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    "William Styron Ranks..."

    as one of my favorite authors, and his Sophie's Choice as one of my top five all-time favorite books, and so I approached this memoir with much anticipation--and expectation. And Alexandra Styron (much like Susan Cheever in Home Before Dark) proves to be a penetrating and moving biographer of her very complicated and often disturbed father. From his long-standing marriage to his absolute devotion to his work to his tendency toward spiraling depression and bouts with alcohol (read his own account of this in Darkness Visible: A Memoir Of Madness), Alexandra renders a portrait of her father that is at once objective but also tinged with the obvious love and devotion that she felt for her famous father. Highly recommended!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Austin, TX, United States 09-06-11
    John Austin, TX, United States 09-06-11 Member Since 2007
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    "A Gripping Account"

    This is a superb biography and you don't even have to be a Styron fan (I'm not) to find it fascinating. The daughter's portrait of her very troubled and demanding father manages somehow to maintain a loving quality within its excoriating account of Styron's bad bargains with his muse. He was clearly a charismatic man, someone who had many famous friends and well-wishers, but he was also demonized by his creative gifts and often unable to connect with his devoted family. The book is beautifully written and the author, who for years trained as an actress, is a very skillful reader.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M Shep Charlotte, VT USA 07-10-11
    M Shep Charlotte, VT USA 07-10-11 Member Since 2005
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    "Fascinating story, beautifully read"

    I loved this audiobook: the story it tells of William Styron's complex life alone would have been worth the price of admission, but hearing it from his daughter's point of view made it even more intense, more poignant, more complex and human. One of the best biographies of an artist and a parent I've ever read.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lynn Atlanta, GA, United States 05-15-11
    Lynn Atlanta, GA, United States 05-15-11
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    "Styron on Styron -awesome combo"

    I have loved all of William Styron's works and this was a beautiful and loving look at the man himself - warts and all. Didn't realize he was so debilitated by depression even though I head "Darkness Visible" - I liked every minute of it and am glad I bought it.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephen Calgary, Alberta, Canada 07-04-12
    Stephen Calgary, Alberta, Canada 07-04-12 Listener Since 2005

    Calgary AB Canada

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    "Engaging and honest. An intimate portrait!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This book is immediately engaging and gives an intimate view of a troubled and brilliant outspoken man. Real name dropping abounds, but not in a "I knew this person, you didn't" kind of way. The people who visited their house were the who's who of this generation of writers. Tom Stoppard, Norman Mailer, Peter Mathieson, among others.


    What did you like best about this story?

    This is a story told from the point of view of a young girl and daughter, who was at times terrified, and enthralled with her father. It was an intimate portrait of a family dealing with mental illness, but also, one of a family struggling to hold together, to understand a man who was hard to live with.


    What about Alexandra Styron???s performance did you like?

    Her terms of endearment, only a daughter could write like this. I could feel her fear, pride, horror and amazement with her Dad, the man, the writer, father and husband to her mother. She had good pace, and was able to use voices to make the telling more interesting. I really enjoyed her voice and the openness of the writing, it felt as though you were going through it with her, walking along beside.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    susan Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada 11-09-12
    susan Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada 11-09-12 Member Since 2011

    I like to weed and read at the same time.

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    "A must if you love someone brilliant and depressed"

    I have to admit to having been unable to read Sophie's choice and almost couldn't watch the end of the movie. What first drew me to Styron was his small volume on depression, Visible Darkness expanded from an article in the New Yorker. I never lent a copy that came back: I must have 'given' over a dozen away. Styron broke new ground writing from the perspective of someone who suffered from debilitating depression compounded by liberal use of alcohol. Alexandra grew up grounded by her mother Rose with a brilliant,difficult mercurial father. As a contemporary of Plimpton and Mailer he moved in high, rabble rousing literary, society and this aspect is fascinating. This is not a Mommy Dearest rant,rather a literate, thoughtful telling of a daughter's struggle to understand her father. That she loved him there is no doubt. Alexandra's training in the theater makes her an intelligent and clear narrator.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter Winthrop, WA, United States 05-23-11
    Peter Winthrop, WA, United States 05-23-11
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    "Reading My Father: A Memoir"

    In the mode of Susan Cheever's memoir of her father, Styron's work offers a threaded narrative off her life, her father's life, and her research for the memoir. Of course, the most interesting parts have to do with pere Styron, especially his early years of literary success. The daugher's insufficently aknowledged privilege becomes annoying at times. but she's a good writer.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joyce Sarasota, FL, United States 05-28-12
    Joyce Sarasota, FL, United States 05-28-12 Member Since 2007

    I am a a devotee of language and literature, basically a scholar and intellectually ecclectic reader.

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    "Daddy Dearest"

    Here we go again! The disaffected daughters write their wrongs. If William Styron were not the powerful writer he was, and did not suffer the incredible pain of his mental illness and his alcoholism, his daughter probably would not have a publisher. The story is predictable--he went from difficult to impossible--but engaging because of who he was, and his talent; she seems to be riding on his name and reputation. Nevertheless, worth the listen because of him and the story, although predictable, of what it's like to grow up with a mentally ill genius.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kate Santa Barbara, CA, United States 02-14-12
    Kate Santa Barbara, CA, United States 02-14-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Author as reader"
    What did you like best about Reading My Father? What did you like least?

    The author, Styron's daughter, writes a compelling story. While I understand an author wanting to


    What did you like best about this story?

    Her perspective


    How could the performance have been better?

    Using an experienced person


    Did Reading My Father inspire you to do anything?

    no


    Any additional comments?

    no

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
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