Reading My Father

A Memoir

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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 natural writer, fluid, and engaging” (The Boston Globe), Alexandra Styron grew up in Connecticut and on Martha’s Vineyard, where her family’s vibrant social life included writers, presidents, and entertainers. She was raised under both the halo of her father’s brilliance and the long shadow of his troubled mind. William Styron, a Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist, was a fascinating and difficult man whose own memoir, Darkness Visible, searingly chronicled his midlife battle with major depression. “By turns brilliant and shocking” (The New York Times Book Review), Reading My Father is a tale of a daughter’s love and her own coming-of-age, beautifully written, with humor, understanding, and grace.
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  • Scribner | 
  • 320 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416591818 | 
  • March 2012
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Video

The Daughter of Sophie's Choice Author On Her Father

Alexandra Styron takes another look at the life of her father William Styron, the acclaimed author of renowned Holocaust novel, Sophie's Choice.

Read an Excerpt

One

WE BURIED MY father on a remarkably mild morning in November 2006. From our family’s house on Martha’s Vineyard to the small graveyard is less than a quarter mile, so we walked along the road, where, it being off-season, not a single car disturbed our quiet formation. Beneath the shade of a tall pin oak, we gathered around the grave site. Joining us were a dozen or so of my parents’ closest friends. The ceremony had been planned the way we thought he’d have liked it—short on pomp, and shorter still on religion. A couple of people spoke; my father’s friend Peter Matthiessen, a Zen priest,... see more

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Reading My Father includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Alexandra Styron. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

INTRODUCTION

Written with astonishing grace and generosity, Alexandra Styron’s Reading My Father, is a moving and illuminating portrait of a great twentieth century novelist and a deeply troubled man.

William Styron's writing and his depression dominated the Styron family landscape, and Alexandra, the youngest of four children, learned to navigate his storms in order to survive. Spanning from Styron’s Tidewater, Virginia youth and precocious literary debut to the triumphs of his best known books and on through his devastating spiral into madness, Reading My Father chronicles the epic sweep of a American artist’s life, while also telling the story of a daughter coming to know her father at last.

TOPICS AND QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION

  1. Consider Alexandra’s place in the Styron family as the youngest child. Could any of her older siblings have written this particular memoir? Or do you think Alexandra witnessed a different side of her parents?
  2. Readin
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