Thursday, January 24, 2013

Book Review: Darkness Visible by William Styron

Darkness Visible was recommended to me about a year ago by my therapist, at a time when I was dealing with a very significant depressive episode.  I just don't think it's possible to explain to someone who hasn't experienced it what it's like to be unable to get out of bed.  My therapist recommended Styron because she thought it would be good for me to read about someone who was, like me, incapacitated by depression.  However, she recommended that I give it some time.  I've been watching for the book since then, but it never showed up at McKays.  So I finally requested it for Christmas, and, because he's wonderful, Luke obliged.

It's William Styron.  I mean what else is left to say?  The writing is beautiful and touching and shows both a personal and social side of depression that should be important to everyone, but is obviously particularly important to those who suffer from it.  His writing is inclusive - I don't think you need to have been crippled by depression to empathize with Styron.  His choice of words are appropriate and beautiful at the same time.  I loved every word.

Entertainment Value
Well, it's a book about depression, so obviously it's not going to be a fun, light read.  I would say that the book is more important than entertaining, although my natural sympathy for and identification with Styron made it an encouraging read for me.  It's also short - between 80 and 90 pages in the hardback version I read.  It's not a difficult book to read, and I think it is genuinely useful for those who are looking for someone to identify with or for those who may not have had experience with depression and would like insight.

I highly recommend reading this one, even if depression isn't an issue for you.  It's a good example, beautifully written, of an issue that needs more understanding.

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