Journalist Philip Caputo remembers his landmark Esquire profile of William Styron

Caputo set out to profile Styron in 1985, when Styron, “one of the towering figures in American letters,” was working on the novel “The Way of the Warrior.” The two men shared an experience as Marines — Styron had praised Caputo’s 1977 Vietnam memoir, “A Rumor of War” — which proved stronger than their common bond as writers, according to the Esquire Classic Podcast.

Styron fell into a deep depression during the reporting of the story, which changed the nature of the profile radically. And Styron never finished his novel, instead writing a 1990 mediation on depression, “Darkness Visible,” that “remains one of the most lucid and illuminating accounts of the illness,” according to the notes for the podcast.

“Caputo joins host David Brancaccio to discuss Styron’s greatness as a writer and how [Styron’s] struggle against depression—and his ability to articulate it in print—stands, in some regards, as his ultimate literary achievement,” according to the notes.

Styron’s Choices, by Philip Caputo – Esquire Classic Podcast

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