This afternoon, I literally stumbled across a hardback edition of Havanas in Camelot: Personal Essays by William Styron, the noted American novelist and essayist. It was for sale on a footpath in South Mumbai, one among a hundred-odd books strewn over a plastic sheet. The 176-page book, published by Random House in 2008, was in mint condition and selling for Rs.30 (less than 50 cents).
The back of the book said, "After the great success in 1990 of Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness, his memoir of depression and recovery, William Styron wrote more frequently in an introspective, autobiographical mode. Havanas in Camelot brings together fourteen of his personal essays, including a reminiscence of his brief friendship with John F. Kennedy; memoirs of Truman Capote, James Baldwin, and Terry Southern; a meditation on Mark Twain; an account of Styron’s daily walks with his dog; and an evocation of his summer home on Martha’s Vineyard. These essays, which reveal a reflective and humorous side of Styron’s nature, make possible a fuller assessment of this enigmatic man of American letters."
I have never read Styron before though I'm aware of his work such as Lie Down in Darkness, The Long March, and Sophie's Choice. Although I enjoy reading personal essays by famous writers and authors, I decided against buying it because I own far too many books that I haven't read. But do you think I made a mistake? Would you have bought the book without a second thought? And should I also have picked up the Ruth Rendell paperback peeping out from under the pyramid of used books? I hate to make these choices.