A Daughter Remembers William Styron

From The New York Times:

Styron Martin Amis, son of Kingsley, once remarked wittily that he had been name-dropping “ever since I first said, ‘Dad.’ ” The Amis family, which counted Philip Larkin and Anthony Burgess among its regular guests, had nothing on the Styrons. “My parents were invited on a day cruise out of Edgartown harbor with President and Mrs. Kennedy on the Patrick J,” Alexandra Styron writes. “My father and the president ­talked about ‘Nat Turner,’ which my father had just begun.” Truman Capote urged William Styron to marry Rose Burgunder (he would have anyway). Peter Matthiessen attended the wedding. James Baldwin stayed with the family in Roxbury, Conn., while writing “Another Country.” Alexandra — called “Albert” by her father — remembers Frank Sinatra “lathering up” in the outdoor shower at their summer retreat on Martha’s Vineyard. When James and Gloria Jones, “drinkers and swearers,” came to visit, Gloria wouldn’t let her husband pass the room where little Albert was watching television without snapping, “Give her a twenty!” Edward Kennedy risked his dignity on Vineyard dance floors. Nothing if not eclectic, Styron also counted Fidel Castro among his acquaintances.

In recording a family history as rich and fascinating as this, as any privileged author is entitled to do, the trick is to tell the tales without seeming to be showing off. Alexandra Styron has no difficulty in this respect. For her purpose in “Reading My Father,” by turns brilliant and shocking, is to play the high-society tune in counterpoint with another, harsh and discordant one: life with Father was practically unbearable.

More here.