The Suicide Run collects five of William Styron’s meticulously rendered narratives based on his real-life experiences as a U.S. Marine. In “Blankenship,” Styron draws on his stint as a guard at a stateside military prison at the end of World War II. “Marriott, the Marine” and “The Suicide Run”—which Styron composed as part of an intended novel that he set aside to write Sophie’s Choice—depict the surreal experience of being conscripted a second time, after World War II, to serve in the Korean War. “My Father’s House” captures the frustration of a soldier trying to become a civilian again. In “Elobey, Annobón, and Corisco,” a soldier attempts to exorcise the dread of an approaching battle by daydreaming about far-off islands, visited vicariously through his childhood stamp collection.
Perhaps the last volume from one of literature’s greatest voices, The Suicide Run brings to life the drama, absurdity, and heroism that forever changed the men who served in the Marine Corps.