Styron's letters show manners amid controversies Austin American-Statesman
Styron did not shy away from answering the controversies of his novels, nor did he shy away from documenting those of his own life, in particular his crushing bouts of depression beginning in the mid-1980s. “Darkness Visible” (1990), his memoir of illness and recovery, helped spawn a literary genre of psychological introspection, dovetailing with developments in psychopharmacology. It set the stage for such literary/medical classics as Kay Redfield Jamison’s “An Unquiet Mind” and Andrew Solomon’s “The Noonday Demon.”
Throughout this life, Styron wrote more than 1,000 letters to family, friends, literary peers and admiring (as well as critical) strangers. In the selection assembled by his widow, Rose, and writer R. Blakeslee Gilpin, he comes off as sensitive, erudite, caring, self-reflective and observant. There’s very little tell-all in the letters — no rants, no rages, no revenge.