Parisian Charm. Omelette & Champagne Breakfast. Beautiful Crepes. Afternoon Cocktails. Gallant Waiters. Delicious Quiche. Evening Romance. Continental Steaks. Mysterious Women. Famous Pastries. Cognac & Midnight Rendezvous. In short, it’s about everything a great European style restaurant is all about. h kg an alg t i Cafe 310 East 6th St. Austin, Texas What’s k r Yil lrAbout? think we can look at Arcadio as symbolically autobiographical. Goyen was a torn man, highly sexual with a deep religious sense, torn by not knowing who he was in a family that didn’t understand him and even rejected him. He was a homesick outcast, an unwilling exile, a solitary maker. Yet, he, too, was a man who survived, who found peace in the telling. Early in Goyen’s writing career, Christopher Isherwood warned him that he would never survive “with that kind of sensibility unless you change, get some armor on yourself.” But he didn’t, and because he never wrote mainstream fiction, he found himself painfully pulled in the tug-of-war of contemporary criticism. After The House of Breath, Good books in every field JENKINS PUBLISHING CO. The Pembei-ton Press John H. Jenkins, Publisher Box 2085 6 Austin 78768 Ronnie Dugger: “Heard’s accounts of the Bees in hiding are the pure gold of real history.” Bryan Woolley \(Dallas Times “It ought to be right beside the Alamo books.” “The Miracle of the KILLER BEES: 12 Senators Who Changed Texas Politics” by Robert Heard Honey Hill Publishing Co. 1022 Bonham Terrace, Austin, Texas 78704 $7.95 plus $1.03 tax and shipping he was hailed as one of America’s brightest young writers and damned as just another southern homosexual. Even in Texas, Lon Tinkle would call Goyen the best lyric talent since Thomas Wolfe, but Tinkle would conclude that The Fair Sister was a “minor triumph.” A. C. Greene labeled the same novel “phoney, phoney.” The Faces of Blood Kindred, Greene suggested, was “all somewhat like eating cotton candy made from unsweetened sugar.” The effect of this on Goyen is summed up by Anais Nin in her diary. “Another fatality in the world of publishing. His books, though much admired and respected, did not sell enough so most of them are now out of print. Another wounded writer.” Finding a Voice Then after The Fair Sister in 1963, William Goyen quit writing. Making sure he could not write, he became a fiction editor at McGraw-Hill. Of his writing he said, “I was relieved not to have to worry about my writing. I scarcely grieved it, or mourned it. It had brought me so little no more than itself.” But life grew worse and Goyen began sinking. “You drink and it kills you,” he told Elizabeth Bennett of the Houston Post. “Can’t tell a joke sex is no good There’s no way out.” Like Arcadio in the sideshow, there to be watched but not allowed to speak, Goyen found his voice in la Biblia Blanca. On several occasions he described how he carried with him a small copy of the New Testament and even read from it at cocktail parties. With the inspiration of Jesus’ words, Goyen began writing again, this time a life of Jesus. His Jesus, however, was not just a healer but also a fugitive, a man at large, not understood by his enemies or friends. So in 1973 Goyen began publishing again, and for the next two years he saw his name in the major reviews. He could have been celebrating, and he may have been, but he has also called 1975 an awful year, and, in an excerpt about Margo Jones \(of the Dallas Theater about what may have been his lowest period. It was 1976 and he and his wife had moved to California. “And I, too, fell to my own floor in that beach hotel in California,” Goyen writes, “saw in the haze of my sinking away, shining on my hands, my feet, my naked body, red, green, purple, yellow. And the miracle that drew like a siphon that deadly color out of me, those countless pills soaked in gin, and saved me there, has kept me here to speak to you now, has given me mind to remember, vision to see some meanings, tongue to speak amends of love.” Since that time Goyen had been writing and publishing, especially short fiction tucked away in little journals with small circulations. Although some of this work will appear later expanded and collected in a novel and a collection of short stories, Arcadio is the book that tells us that Goyen reconciled the parts of his warring soul. Goyen, therefore, left us with a body of work, whole, complete, and meaningful. It tells us that one can remain a solitary maker, a fugitive, at large from the current trends, that one can experiment, be knocked about because of it, and survive with one’s talent, vitality, and vision intact. This lesson is important for all of us no matter what we do, especially for writers who happen to be from Texas. From the beginning, critics tried to label Goyen a Southern writer, which he resisted, saying he was Southwestern instead. Of course we in Texas claimed him, more than we had any right to. In a recent essay, A. C. Greene recalled the last time he spoke with Goyen. “He was a Texas writer by birth and circumstance, and the very last words I heard him pronounce were, proudly, `I’ve never been anything else,’ when I beseeched him not to forget.” That Goyen was proud of his Texas roots is undeniable. He loved the East Texas language that was given to him, that he heard in his mind all his life, despite leaving Texas in his twenties. He was even grateful for the heritage that the old Texas writers, Bedichek, Dobie, and Webb, had left him. However, Goyen was in no way overwhelmed with Texas; at no time did he think Texas was big enough. He would not be limited by his roots. He may have admired the old three but he had no desire to be Texas’ literary master. Goyen saw himself as a writer, not as an arbiter of taste. Goyen took his legacy, his Texas heritage, and left the state to become more than a Texas writer. And he made it, not by offering up a slice of life, but by recording his experiences, by remaining regional. He made it by going beyond the East Texas language into the many single human voices of his characters, their subconscious voices made to speak, the voices they use to explain and understand themselves. In so doing, he has, as in Arcadio, taken late night conversations on a lawn and their resulting visions and turned them into “an event,” encouraging us all to become listeners and tellers, reconciled and at large. 14 DECEMBER 9, 1983
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