Biography & Autobiography

Darkness Visible | ,

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The New York Times–bestselling memoir of crippling depression and the struggle for recovery by the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Sophie’s Choice. In the summer of 1985, William Styron became numbed by disaffection, apathy, and despair, unable to speak or walk while caught in the grip of advanced depression. His struggle with the disease culminated in a wave of obsession that nearly drove him to suicide, leading him to seek hospitalization before the dark tide engulfed him. Darkness Visible tells the story of Styron’s recovery, laying bare the harrowing realities of clinical depression and chronicling his triumph over the disease that had claimed so many great writers before him. His final words are a call for hope to all who suffer from mental illness that it is possible to emerge from even the deepest abyss of despair and “once again behold the stars.” This ebook features a new illustrated biography of William Styron, including original letters, rare photos, and never-before-seen documents from the Styron family and the Duke University Archives..

Biography & Autobiography

Reading My Father | Alexandra Styron

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PART MEMOIR AND PART ELEGY, READING MY FATHER IS THE STORY OF A DAUGHTER COMING TO KNOW HER FATHER AT LAST— A GIANT AMONG TWENTIETH-CENTURY AMERICAN NOVELISTS AND A MAN WHOSE DEVASTATING DEPRESSION DARKENED THE FAMILY LANDSCAPE. In Reading My Father, William Styron’s youngest child explores the life of a fascinating and difficult man whose own memoir, Darkness Visible, so searingly chronicled his battle with major depression. Alexandra Styron’s parents—the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Sophie’s Choice and his political activist wife, Rose—were, for half a century, leading players on the world’s cultural stage. Alexandra was raised under both the halo of her father’s brilliance and the long shadow of his troubled mind. A drinker, a carouser, and above all “a high priest at the altar of fiction,” Styron helped define the concept of The Big Male Writer that gave so much of twentieth-century American fiction a muscular, glamorous aura. In constant pursuit of The Great Novel, he and his work were the dominant force in his family’s life, his turbulent moods the weather in their ecosystem. From Styron’s Tidewater, Virginia, youth and precocious literary debut to the triumphs of his best-known books and on through his spiral into depression, Reading My Father portrays the epic sweep of an American artist’s life, offering a ringside seat on a great literary generation’s friendships and their dramas. It is also a tale of filial love, beautifully written, with humor, compassion, and grace..

Fiction

Set This House on Fire | William Styron

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A New York Times bestseller by the author of Sophie’s Choice: Two Americans search for the truth about a mysterious long-ago murder in Italy. Shortly after World War II, in the village of Sambuco, Italy, two men—Virginia attorney Peter Leverett and South Carolina artist Cass Kinsolving—crossed paths with Mason Flagg. They both had their own reactions to the gregarious and charismatic movie mogul’s son. For the impressionable Peter, it was something close to awe. For the alcoholic Cass, it was unsettled rage. Then, after the rape and murder of a peasant girl, Mason’s body was found at the base of a cliff—an apparent suicide. He’d been distraught, the authorities said, over committing such a heinous crime. Peter and Cass went their separate ways, and never spoke of it again. Now, years later, Peter is still haunted by what he knows—and by what he doesn’t. He’s sought out Cass in Charleston for closure, and something close to the truth. Together both men will share their tales of that terrible season in Italy, each with their own ghosts—and their own reasons to exorcise them. But neither Peter nor Cass is prepared for where this path of revenge, complicity, and atonement will take them. A profound exploration of the evil that men do, and what the innocent must endure to accommodate it, Set This House on Fire is more than a byzantine murder mystery, it’s “one of the finest novels of our times” from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Confessions of Nat Turner, Darkness Visible, and other modern classics (San Francisco Chronicle). This ebook features a new illustrated biography of William Styron, including original letters, rare photos, and never-before-seen documents from the Styron family and the Duke University Archives..

Literary Collections

Selected Letters of William Styron | William Styron

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In 1950, at the age of twenty-four, William Clark Styron, Jr., wrote to his mentor, Professor William Blackburn of Duke University. The young writer was struggling with his first novel, Lie Down in Darkness, and he was nervous about whether his “strain and toil” would amount to anything. “When I mature and broaden,” Styron told Blackburn, “I expect to use the language on as exalted and elevated a level as I can sustain. I believe that a writer should accommodate language to his own peculiar personality, and mine wants to use great words, evocative words, when the situation demands them.” In February 1952, Styron was awarded the Prix de Rome of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, which crowned him a literary star. In Europe, Styron met and married Rose Burgunder, and found himself immersed in a new generation of expatriate writers. His relationships with George Plimpton and Peter Matthiessen culminated in Styron introducing the debut issue of The Paris Review. Literary critic Alfred Kazin described him as one of the postwar “super-egotists” who helped transform American letters. His controversial The Confessions of Nat Turner won the 1968 Pulitzer Prize, while Sophie’s Choice was awarded the 1980 National Book Award, and Darkness Visible, Styron’s groundbreaking recounting of his ordeal with depression, was not only a literary triumph, but became a landmark in the field. Part and parcel of Styron’s literary ascendance were his friendships with Norman Mailer, James Baldwin, John and Jackie Kennedy, Arthur Miller, James Jones, Carlos Fuentes, Wallace Stegner, Robert Penn Warren, Philip Roth, C. Vann Woodward, and many of the other leading writers and intellectuals of the second half of the twentieth century. This incredible volume takes readers on an American journey from FDR to George W. Bush through the trenchant observations of one of the country’s greatest writers. Not only will readers take pleasure in William Styron’s correspondence with and commentary about the people and events that made the past century such a momentous and transformative time, they will also share the writer’s private meditations on the very art of writing. Advance praise for Selected Letters of William Styron “I first encountered Bill Styron when, at twenty, I read The Confessions of Nat Turner. Hillary and I became friends with Bill and Rose early in my presidency, but I continued to read him, fascinated by the man and his work, his triumphs and troubles, the brilliant lights and dark corners of his amazing mind. These letters, carefully and lovingly selected by Rose, offer real insight into both the great writer and the good man.”—President Bill Clinton “The Bill Styron revealed in these letters is altogether the Bill Styron who was a dear friend and esteemed colleague to me for close to fifty years. The humor, the generosity, the loyalty, the self-awareness, the commitment to literature, the openness, the candor about matters closest to him—all are on display in this superb selection of his correspondence. The directness in the artful sentences is such that I felt his beguiling presence all the while that I was enjoying one letter after another.”—Philip Roth “Bill Styron’s letters were never envisioned, far less composed, as part of the Styron oeuvre, yet that is what they turn out to be. Brilliant, passionate, eloquent, insightful, moving, dirty-minded, indignant, and hilarious, they accumulate power in the reading, becoming in themselves a work of literature.”—Peter Matthiessen.

Literary Collections

This Quiet Dust | William Styron

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“Thoughtful, candid” essays from the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Sophie’s Choice (The Christian Science Monitor). This Quiet Dust is a compilation of William Styron’s nonfiction writings that confront significant moral questions with precision and vigor. He examines topics as diverse as the Holocaust, the American Dream, and the controversy that raged around his Pulitzer Prize–winning novel, The Confessions of Nat Turner. In each entry, Styron expertly wields his powers of insight to slice through the most complex issues. This Quiet Dust offers a window into the philosophical underpinnings of Styron’s greatest novels and is the ideal entry for readers seeking a greater understanding into the work of one of America’s most celebrated authors. This ebook features a new illustrated biography of William Styron, including original letters, rare photos, and never-before-seen documents from the Styron family and the Duke University Archives..

Biography & Autobiography

William Styron | James L. W. West

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A “mesmerizing” biography of the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of Sophie’s Choice, The Confessions of Nat Turner, and Darkness Visible (Entertainment Weekly). William Styron was one of the most highly regarded and controversial authors of his generation. In this illuminating biography, James L. W. West III draws upon letters, papers, and manuscripts as well as interviews with Styron’s friends and family to recount in rich detail the experiences that shaped each of his groundbreaking books. From Styron’s Southern upbringing, which deeply influenced the Pulitzer Prize–winning The Confessions of Nat Turner and National Book Award–winning Sophie’s Choice, to his feud with Norman Mailer and the clinical depression that led to his acclaimed memoir Darkness Visible, West’s remarkable biography provides invaluable insight into the life and works of a giant of American literature..

Body, Mind & Spirit

Darkness Visible | Ross Heaven,Simon Buxton

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The first book to examine the spiritual and therapeutic practice of retreat in physical darkness to explore inner light • Shows how experiencing complete darkness over prolonged periods helps in developing mental clarity and creativity • Draws upon many indigenous and spiritual traditions that use this technique The use of ceremonial darkness is a classic and cross-cultural method for exploring hidden aspects of unconscious and super-conscious states, accessing invisible landscapes, and embracing the deeper recesses of the self. In Darkness Visible Heaven and Buxton examine the spiritual and therapeutic practice of taking retreat in physical darkness. For millennia mystics and sages have used darkness as a spiritual tool for breaking with their pasts, prior conditioning, and the limited reality of their societies. Spiritual seekers from many traditions--Celtic, Eastern, indigenous North and South American, Tibetan, and African--have used darkness as a tool for spiritual enlightenment. Heaven and Buxton show how experiencing complete darkness, even for only a period of hours, brings about a remarkable clarity and mental stillness and thus provides a springboard for creativity, intuition, and spiritual development. They include exercises that explore lucid levels of dream consciousness, drawing both from their experience as teachers of this method and from the many cultures that include this practice in their spiritual traditions. Darkness Visible shows how deprivation of sight can truly teach us to see..

Psychology

Healing from Depression | Douglas Bloch

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In Healing from Depression, Douglas Bloch shares his struggle to stay alive amidst overwhelming despair and out-of-control anxiety attacks, and explains how the power of prayer and other holistic approaches ultimately led to his recovery. As one of the millions of Americans who suffer from depression, Bloch could not be helped by so-called “miracle” drugs. Therefore, he had to seek out conventional and alternative non-drug methods of healing. The result is a 12-week program that combines his inspirational story with a comprehensive manual on how to diagnose and treat depression, offering new hope and practical strategies to everyone who suffers from this debilitating condition. Complete with worksheets and goal sheets to customize individual plans, Healing from Depression is an accessible self-guided program for managing and recovering from depression. Acclaimed as a “life-line to healing,” this important book stresses the importance of social support, on going self-care activities like relaxation, nutrition, exercise, prayer, meditation, support groups, therapy and keeping a daily mood diary and gratitude journal..

Biography & Autobiography

Girl, Interrupted | Susanna Kaysen

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In 1967, after a session with a psychiatrist she'd never seen before, eighteen-year-old Susanna Kaysen was put in a taxi and sent to McLean Hospital. She spent most of the next two years in the ward for teenage girls in a psychiatric hospital as renowned for its famous clientele—Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, James Taylor, and Ray Charles—as for its progressive methods of treating those who could afford its sanctuary. Kaysen's memoir encompasses horror and razor-edged perception while providing vivid portraits of her fellow patients and their keepers. It is a brilliant evocation of a "parallel universe" set within the kaleidoscopically shifting landscape of the late sixties. Girl, Interrupted is a clear-sighted, unflinching document that gives lasting and specific dimension to our definitions of sane and insane, mental illness and recovery..

Fiction

A Tidewater Morning | William Styron

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From the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of Sophie’s Choice: three novellas of a young writer’s journey to adulthood. In Love Day, twenty-year-old Paul Whitehurst is a Marine lieutenant during World War II, waiting to land on Okinawa, wrestling with anxiety and memories of his boyhood in Virginia. In Shadrach, ten-year-old Paul witnesses his neighbors as they welcome a guest: a ninety-nine-year-old former slave who has walked nine hundred miles from Alabama so that he may die on the land of his childhood owner. And in A Tidewater Morning, Paul is thirteen and struggling to deal with his mother’s impending death from cancer. Together in one volume, each of these affecting semiautobiographical novellas from the author of such literary classics as the Pulitzer Prize–winning The Confessions of Nat Turner and the memoir Darkness Visible, weaves together the transformative experiences of Whitehurst’s early life with William Styron’s signature deep historical insight, underscoring how the significance of the past informs the present. As the Los Angeles Times notes, it is “one of Styron’s finest works. . . . The beauty and humanity of the Southern tradition are evoked vividly.” This ebook features a new illustrated biography of William Styron, including original letters, rare photos, and never-before-seen documents from the Styron family and the Duke University Archives..

Fiction

The Suicide Run | William Styron

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The Suicide Run collects five of William Styron’s meticulously rendered narratives based on his real-life experiences as a U.S. Marine. In “Blankenship,” Styron draws on his stint as a guard at a stateside military prison at the end of World War II. “Marriott, the Marine” and “The Suicide Run”—which Styron composed as part of an intended novel that he set aside to write Sophie’s Choice—depict the surreal experience of being conscripted a second time, after World War II, to serve in the Korean War. “My Father’s House” captures the frustration of a soldier trying to become a civilian again. In “Elobey, Annobón, and Corisco,” a soldier attempts to exorcise the dread of an approaching battle by daydreaming about far-off islands, visited vicariously through his childhood stamp collection. Perhaps the last volume from one of literature’s greatest voices, The Suicide Run brings to life the drama, absurdity, and heroism that forever changed the men who served in the Marine Corps..

Fiction

Snow Falling on Cedars | David Guterson

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A “finely wrought, flawlessly written” novel (New York Times Book Review), set on a small island in the Puget Sound, that is “at various moments a courtroom drama, an interracial love story, and a war chronicle” (San Francisco Chronicle). “Guterson has fashioned something haunting and true” (Pico Iyer, Time). Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award. A fall 1999 major motion picture..

Fiction

Darkness Visible | William Golding

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Winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize Darkness Visible opens at the height of the London Blitz, when a naked child steps out of an all-consuming fire. Miraculously saved but hideously scarred, soon tormented at school and at work, Matty becomes a wanderer, a seeker after some unknown redemption. Two more lost children await him, twins as exquisite as they are loveless. Toni dabbles in political violence; Sophy, in sexual tyranny. As Golding weaves their destinies together, his book reveals both the inner and outer darkness of our time..

Biography & Autobiography

This Close to Happy | Daphne Merkin

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A New York Times Book Review Favorite Read of 2016 “Despair is always described as dull,” writes Daphne Merkin, “when the truth is that despair has a light all its own, a lunar glow, the color of mottled silver.” This Close to Happy—Merkin’s rare, vividly personal account of what it feels like to suffer from clinical depression—captures this strange light. Daphne Merkin has been hospitalized three times: first, in grade school, for childhood depression; years later, after her daughter was born, for severe postpartum depression; and later still, after her mother died, for obsessive suicidal thinking. Recounting this series of hospitalizations, as well as her visits to myriad therapists and psychopharmacologists, Merkin fearlessly offers what the child psychiatrist Harold Koplewicz calls “the inside view of navigating a chronic psychiatric illness to a realistic outcome.” The arc of Merkin’s affliction is lifelong, beginning in a childhood largely bereft of love and stretching into the present, where Merkin lives a high-functioning life and her depression is manageable, if not “cured.” “The opposite of depression,” she writes with characteristic insight, “is not a state of unimaginable happiness . . . but a state of relative all-right-ness.” In this dark yet vital memoir, Merkin describes not only the harrowing sorrow that she has known all her life, but also her early, redemptive love of reading and gradual emergence as a writer. Written with an acute understanding of the ways in which her condition has evolved as well as affected those around her, This Close to Happy is an utterly candid coming-to-terms with an illness that many share but few talk about, one that remains shrouded in stigma. In the words of the distinguished psychologist Carol Gilligan, “It brings a stunningly perceptive voice into the forefront of the conversation about depression, one that is both reassuring and revelatory.”.

Fiction

The Long March | William Styron

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The author of Sophie’s Choice, “the foremost writer of his generation,” portrays a rebellion by two marines on a miles-long march in the Carolina heat (The Wall Street Journal). In the shadow of the Korean War, a series of misfired mortar shells kill six men in a marine camp during a training exercise, prompting the commanding officer to order a grueling punishment: a thirty-six mile march through the suffocating heat of the Carolina summer. Intended to beat discipline into the aging reservists, the march instead rankles marines Culver and Mannix, whose growing resentment of the brutal trek leads to an ultimate, powerful act of rebellion. Styron’s The Long March is a withering critique of a military system that leaves no room for dignity or personal identity. Told in part through flashbacks and dream sequences, the story is immersed in vivid language and philosophical reflection—a poignant defense of the individual in the face of attempted dehumanization. This short novel marks another triumph by the New York Times–bestselling author of Sophie's Choice and Darkness Visible, who has been honored with both a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award, among other accolades. This ebook features a new illustrated biography of William Styron, including original letters, rare photos, and never-before-seen documents from the Styron family and the Duke University Archives..

Psychology

A Cure for Darkness | Alex Riley

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A fascinating look at the treatment of depression, blending journalism, science, history, and memoir, by an award-winning science writer. What is depression? Is it a persistent low mood or a complex range of symptoms? Is it a single diagnosis or a diversity of mental disorders requiring different treatments? In A Cure for Darkness, science writer Alex Riley explores these questions, digging into the long history of depression and chronicling the lives of psychiatrists and scientists who sought cures for their patients. Since 2015, Riley has received both cognitive behavioral therapy and antidepressants for his own depression. Throughout his treatment, he wondered—are antidepressants effective? Do short-term talking therapies actually work? And what treatments are on the horizon for those who don’t respond to these first-line treatments? Expanding from his own experience, he tracks treatments through history, from the “talking cure” to electroconvulsive therapy to magic mushrooms. With depression fast becoming the leading burden of disease around the world, the future of mental healthcare depends not just on the development of new therapies, but on increasing access for people who are currently without. Reporting on the field of global mental health from its colonial past to the present day, Riley highlights a range of scalable therapies, including how a group of grandmothers stands on the frontline of a mental health revolution. Weaving in personal and family history, A Cure for Darkness is a gripping narrative journey and a surprisingly hopeful work that delves deep into the science of mental health..

Biography & Autobiography

Monkey Mind | Daniel Smith

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Daniel Smith’s Monkey Mind is the stunning articulation of what it is like to live with anxiety. As he travels through anxiety’s demonic layers, Smith defangs the disorder with great humor and evocatively expresses its self-destructive absurdities and painful internal coherence. Aaron Beck, the most influential doctor in modern psychotherapy, says that “Monkey Mind does for anxiety what William Styron’s Darkness Visible did for depression.” Neurologist and bestselling writer Oliver Sacks says, “I read Monkey Mind with admiration for its bravery and clarity….I broke out into explosive laughter again and again.” Here, finally, comes relief and recognition to all those who want someone to put what they feel, or what their loved ones feel, into words..

Biography & Autobiography

Marbles | Ellen Forney

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Cartoonist Ellen Forney explores the relationship between “crazy” and “creative” in this graphic memoir of her bipolar disorder, woven with stories of famous bipolar artists and writers. Shortly before her thirtieth birthday, Forney was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Flagrantly manic and terrified that medications would cause her to lose creativity, she began a years-long struggle to find mental stability while retaining her passions and creativity. Searching to make sense of the popular concept of the crazy artist, she finds inspiration from the lives and work of other artists and writers who suffered from mood disorders, including Vincent van Gogh, Georgia O’Keeffe, William Styron, and Sylvia Plath. She also researches the clinical aspects of bipolar disorder, including the strengths and limitations of various treatments and medications, and what studies tell us about the conundrum of attempting to “cure” an otherwise brilliant mind. Darkly funny and intensely personal, Forney’s memoir provides a visceral glimpse into the effects of a mood disorder on an artist’s work, as she shares her own story through bold black-and-white images and evocative prose..

Psychology

The Depths | Jonathan Rottenberg

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Nearly every depressed person is assured by doctors, well-meaning friends and family, the media, and ubiquitous advertisements that the underlying problem is a chemical imbalance. Such a simple defect should be fixable, yet despite all of the resources that have been devoted to finding a pharmacological solution, depression remains stubbornly widespread. Why are we losing this fight? In this humane and illuminating challenge to defect models of depression, psychologist Jonathan Rottenberg argues that depression is a particularly severe outgrowth of our natural capacity for emotion. In other words, it is a low mood gone haywire. Drawing on recent developments in the science of mood—and his own harrowing depressive experience as a young adult—Rottenberg explains depression in evolutionary terms, showing how its dark pull arises from adaptations that evolved to help our ancestors ensure their survival. Moods, high and low, evolved to compel us to more efficiently pursue rewards. While this worked for our ancestors, our modern environment—in which daily survival is no longer a sole focus—makes it all too easy for low mood to slide into severe, long-lasting depression. Weaving together experimental and epidemiological research, clinical observations, and the voices of individuals who have struggled with depression, The Depths offers a bold new account of why depression endures—and makes a strong case for de-stigmatizing this increasingly common condition. In so doing, Rottenberg offers hope in the form of his own and other patients’ recovery, and points the way towards new paths for treatment..

Fiction

In Darkness Visible | Tony Jones

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'A racy, classy political thriller ...' - Jennifer Byrne In 2005, Marin Katich, living in Croatia under an alias, is being watched. Before the year is out, he has been assaulted, arrested, charged with serious war crimes and locked up in Scheveningen Prison in The Hague, waiting for his case to come before the International War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. In Sydney, Anna Rosen, a freelance journalist, is emailed photos of a man she knows to be dead - gunned down in a brutal ambush in Bosnia over a decade ago. A man she'd once loved but who had betrayed her. Is it possible that the photos really are of Marin Katich? And if so, what the hell had happened in 1992? From Croatia to The Hague to Bosnia and Herzegovina to Sydney, Anna and Marin's intertwined history fuels her determination to tear apart, piece by piece, his secrets, while continuing to keep her own. In a dangerous pursuit of justice and revenge, navigating the murky world of national and international secret agencies and those who would still be warlords, Anna fights for what she believes in and for those she loves. Tony Jones, one of Australia's most admired journalists, blurs the lines between fiction and political reality, creating a page-turning, intriguing and gripping thriller. 'A political thriller in the Robert Harris mould.' - Jennifer Byrne on The Twentieth Man 'Extremely readable, fascinating and very cleverly done.' - AustralianCrimeFiction.org on The Twentieth Man.