Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tuesday Books for Writers! Sophie's Choice by William Styron

There is so much I want to say about Sophie's Choice. I decided to read it for very bizarre reasons. I knew the book had been made into a film and people usually expressed that it was very tearful. I knew that it took place in Brooklyn, not very far from where I currently live.
That was all.

Turns out I was in for an absolutely heartbreaking read, that is so beyond 'tearful' and 'takes place in Brooklyn' you have no idea. You 'witness' pure evil in this book and sometimes that's hard to take. While I was reading it, people would look at the cover and raise their eyebrows. "Sophie's Choice, heh?" As if to say, why don't you take the prozac now before it's too late?

If you have not read this book or seen the film (I still have not seen it), I will say that there are moments that will make you laugh. And I did not want to curl up and die after reading it. So I don't want to get all melodramatic and make you think you're in for a story that will leave you pale and sickly with no desire to live. That being said, it will break your heart many times and you'll probably never be able to mend it. How's that for being melodramatic?

In any case, if you like to write, read, or you're just a human being walking the earth, you should read it. It's a pretty epic tale. I was in awe of the beautiful language and the sheer craftsmanship it takes to weave a story like this.

Without giving much away, Stingo, a young writer, lives in a Brooklyn apartment and meets two lovers, Sophie and Nathan, who live above him. The two have an incredibly tumultuous relationship and Stingo gets wrapped up in it. And then he learns about Sophie's tragic past in Nazi-occupied Poland. So it weaves through quite a history. It seamlessly switches tenses and effortlessly sneaks through past and present. I often do not like non-linear stories and, yet, I held on to this one for dear life. It is told as you often hear a person's past unveil itself, through bits and pieces, through lies and truths, over many days, weeks, and years. It builds until you can't take it anymore. The suspense is mystifying. (Yes, I said mystifying. Forgive me, I'm in a blind haze.) It does get the honor of 'masterpiece', so no lies in this blog post. Writers, get thee to a library and say a prayer that you learn through osmosis.

Has anyone read this book?


  1. Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could learn through osmosis!

  2. I haven't read it yet, but I've wanted to. Your review makes me want to pick it up right away!

  3. I haven't seen the movie or read the book either. Hadn't even thought about it, but I'm going to add it to the list (which is now an electronic list because it's getting far too long to keep in my head). Thanks.