William Styron - The Suicide Run (4 stars)

William Styron - The Suicide Run

(Jonathan Cape)

On first glance at the cover image depicting a uniformed soldier speeding across a field, The Suicide Run looks like your average war story. But this is no ordinary tale; we should have guessed really, as William Styron is no ordinary chap. The award-winning author (Pulitzer Prize no less) of such classics as Sophie’s Choice and Lie Down in Darkness died in 2006, and this posthumous collection of his time in the US Marine Corps not only offers a compelling insight into military life but also into the mind of this mighty wordsmith.

Four narratives unfold, set in gruelling training camps, prison quarters and training fields and we are introduced to captivating and complex characters which draw on Styron’s own experiences in the forces during the 1940s and 50s. Beautifully written, the stories feature awe-inspiring paragraphs of evocative imagery and cleverly conjured sentences. Honest, devastatingly powerful and also quite beautiful.

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