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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mental illness as literature, January 30, 2001
This review is from: Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness (Paperback)
In the mid '80s William Styron developed severe depression and lived to tell about it; the result is this very readable memoir. Styron's book is better written than almost any other autobiographical account on the subject you're likely to find, and I strongly disagree with all the complaints that the book is (1) self-serving, (2) stilted, or (3) shallow. Stryon is hardly the first to point out that writers are far more likely than Joe Average to contract severe depression, that some of the very greatest authors have suffered from this disease; and in doing so here I doubt that he's trying to impress the Nobel Committee.
Nor can I fault him for failing to explain conclusively what triggered his malady. I've gone through one major depressive episode, which I have explained to myself a hundred different ways without settling on a hard-and-fast answer. Styron does as well as one could reasonably expect. He's lucid, articulate, and occasionally (I'm thinking of his episode with Art Therapy) funny. At under 100 pages, "Darkness Visible" has plenty to offer for what little time it demands from readers.
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