Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Author William Styron Is Dead

His two most famous books -- "Sophie's Choice" and "The Confessions of Nat Turner" -- were both shadowed by foolish arguments: did a white male have the "right" to tell the story of slave revolt leader Nat Turner and was it simply wrong to tell a story of the Holocaust that didn't revolve around the Jews. (Like there's a paucity of stories on that topic.) I've got a copy of his war book "The Long March" on my to-read list (it's pleasingly slim) and I've always been tempted by "Nat Turner." But having read "Sophie's Choice," I'm not much drawn to him in general. It's cruel to say so, but I found the movie more powerful and effective. In short, without spoiling anything, the book and film build to a terrible revelation. But since the book is so much longer and more detailed about the horrors of the camps, the final revelation simply feels like one more (particularly awful, horrific) moment in a nightmare. The movie has to pick and choose, circling around the moment and so it stands out much better. And then of course there's Meryl Streep.

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