« Contra Styron


A correspondent called my attention to a literary blog by Edward Champion touting Sophie’s Choice, allegedly one of the top one hundred novels of the 20th century, and thereby waved the red cape in front of the raging bull. I can’t stand William Styron and I especially can’t stand Sophie’s Choice. Saying someone is like Faulkner without the talent is sort of like saying someone is like Einstein without the brains, but there you go: Styron is a purple writer who isn’t able to make the purple passages sound like anything except very bad writing. Did he really pen the words “her moist mossy cunt’s undulant swamp”? You can’t do that unless you are doing a parody of William Styron. Is he characterizing Stingo with that line? Don’t even go there – it doesn’t matter if he is or not. That line cannot exist in serious fiction. If Styron were a movie, he would be Bad Movie Night, forever.

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About Stephen Kennamer

For several years I have taught a course titled The Anthropology of Evil. I chose the term “anthropology,” not to indicate a restriction to the study of evil among primitive tribes, but rather to widen the lens to take in every relevant discipline: history, philosophy, theology, psychology, sociology, and current events.

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