Saturday, May 21, 2011

Five best stories of fathers and daughters

Alexandra Styron is the author of the novel All the Finest Girls. A graduate of Barnard College and the MFA program at Columbia University, she has contributed to several anthologies as well as The New Yorker, the New York Times, Avenue, Real Simple, and Interview, among other publications.

She is the youngest daughter of William Styron, author of Sophie’s Choice, Lie Down in Darkness, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Confessions of Nat Turner.

Alexandra Styron's new book is Reading My Father: A Memoir.

One title on her list of the five best stories of fathers and daughters, as told to the Wall Street Journal:
To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee (1960)

In 1966, the year I was born, the school board for Hanover County in Virginia banned Harper Lee's best-selling novel from the school libraries after one member, Mr. W.C. Bosher, saw his son's copy and pronounced the story of a black man wrongly accused of raping a white woman "immoral literature." (The following year, another racially tinged controversy erupted after the publication of my own father's novel, "The Confessions of Nat Turner.") Perhaps it was the familiar Southern-ness of Harper Lee's tale, but no novel of my childhood left a deeper mark than "To Kill a Mockingbird." I was one of a doubtless large club of girl readers who fancied themselves as plucky and charming as the book's inimitable narrator, Scout. We were girls who also unconsciously set our gauge of a man's character to that impossibly perfect polestar, Atticus Finch. The sine qua non in round-ups of father-daughter stories, "Mockingbird" is also a primer on the essentials of humanity, humor and good story-telling. And, begging Mr. Bosher's pardon, it is the most exquisitely "moral" American novel since Huck and Jim set off down the mighty Mississippi.
Read about the other books on the list.

To Kill a Mockingbird also made TIME magazine's top 10 list of books you were forced to read in school, John Mullan's list of ten of the best lawyers in literature, Lisa Scottoline's top ten list of books about justice, and Luke Leitch's list of ten literary one-hit wonders. It is one of Sanjeev Bhaskar's six best books.

In Reading My Father "there’s a lot of territory, emotional and literary, that [Styron]... quite skillfully covers," says Kate Feiffer, who grew up with Alexandra Styron.

--Marshal Zeringue