After the great success in 1990 of Darkness Visible, his memoir of depression and recovery, William Styron wrote more frequently in an introspective, autobiographical mode. Havanas in Camelot brings together fourteen of his personal essays, including a reminiscence of his brief friendship with John F. Kennedy; a recollection of the power and ceremony on display at the inauguration of François Mitterrand; memoirs of Truman Capote, James Baldwin, and Terry Southern; a meditation on Mark Twain; an account of Styron’s daily walks with his dog; and an evocation of his summer home on Martha’s Vineyard.
Styron’s essays touch on the great themes of his fiction–racial oppression, slavery, and the Holocaust–but for the most part they address other subjects: bowdlerizations of history, literary lists, childhood moviegoing, the censoring of his own work, and the pursuit of celebrity fetish objects.
These essays, which reveal a reflective and humorous side of Styron’s nature, make possible a fuller assessment of this enigmatic man of American letters.
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