Friday, March 25, 2011

Apologies to William Styron...

Some of you may recall a prior post, about the Biblioz site, where you can search for New York Best Sellers the week of your birth.  I decided to try two books from my year, 1968, The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron and Couples by John Updike.

I'm sorry to report that the first of these was a partial failure.  I read about 150 pages of the book and definitely got a feel for why the book started all the fireworks it did.  First, Styron writes from the point of view of Turner, which was controversial enough since Styron was white, but he also infuses the narrative with such depth of character that Nat Turner becomes sympathetic to some degree (which whites didn't like).  Even though Nat Turner led a slave rebellion that resulted in 55-65 deaths.  He also insinuates that Nat Turner had less-than-holy feelings for a white woman, and brotherly feelings towards another white man (which blacks didn't like).  So really, there was a firestorm around this book and its historical relevance is obvious.  The reason I couldn't finish it was because it seemed to be leading up to a play-by-play, detailed recount of the massacre itself (having already included some graphic details up to that point) and really, I just didn't want to go there. 

I don't give up on books very often, but I stopped reading this one.  That is not to say I wouldn't recommend it.  Actually, the more I think about it this morning, I'm thinking maybe I'll return to it some time.  For now...on to Couples.


Post a Comment

"As soon as we express something, we devalue it strangely. We believe ourselves to have dived down into the depths of the abyss, and when we once again reach the surface, the drops of water on our pale fingertips no longer resemble the ocean from which they came...Nevertheless, the treasure shimmers in the darkness unchanged." ---Franz Kafka