Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Styron the siren

William Styron, you poetic prince.  Are you American?  Can it be so?  Certainly not English.  Southern with a love for Paris you say?  Virginia boy, you make me want to drink a bottle of Cabernet and reread Nabokov.

"I remember those first weeks at Yetta's with remarkable clarity. To begin with, there was a magnificent surge of creative energy, the innocent and youthful abandon with which I was able to set down in so short a time the first fifty or sixty pages of the book.  I have never written fast or easily and this was no exception, for even then I was compelled to search, however inadequately, for the right word and suffered over the rhythms and subtleties of our gorgeous but unbenevolent, unyielding tongue; nonetheless, I was seized by a strange, dauntless self-confidence and I scribbled away joyously while the characters I had begun to create seemed to a acquire a life of their own and the muggy atmosphere of the Tidewater summer took on both an eye-dazzling and almost tactile reality, as if unspooling before my eyes on film, in uncanny three-dimensional color.  How I now cherish the image of myself in this earlier time, hunched over the schoolmarm's desk in that radiant pink room, whispering melodiously (as I still do) the invented phrases and sentences, testing them on my lips like some obsessed verse-monger, and all the while remaining supremely content in the knowledge that the fruit of this happy labor, whatever its deficiencies, would be the most awesome and important of man's imaginative endeavors -- The Novel.  The blessed Novel.  The sacred Novel.  The Almighty Novel.  Oh, Stingo, how I envy you in those faraway afternoons of First Novelhood (so long before middle age and the drowsy slack tides of inanition, gloomy boredom with fiction, and the pooping-out of ego and ambition) when immortal longings impelled your every hyphen and semicolon and you had the faith of a child in the beauty you felt you were destined to bring forth."

~ William Styron, Sophie's Choice

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