Friday, December 12, 2014

A Breath of Fresh Texas Air

William Goyen's The House of Breath (published in 1950, and Goyen's first work) was recently listed as a recommended book in Texas Monthly magazine, of which I am a subscriber. I also finally figured out how to use "LINK +" with the Oakland Public Library system, so was able to get this book on loan from another library system.  It was a book like none I have ever read before - the narrative structure and writing style is wholly unique to Goyen.  It is poetic and evocative, and brims with memories of small town life in Charity, Texas.  The style reminded me a bit of Faulkner and a bit of Garcia Marquez.   These days I'm more drawn to realistic fiction, so I didn't love the unconventional style but I appreciated some of the beautiful phrases in the book.  Here are some of my favorite passages (with spelling as it appears in the book):

"Everything then, working with and upon everything - with accompanying resistance and damage and error but turning out something changed, finished, prepared to receive something more, to take in and take on something more:  pain, wisdom, love.  This great, mysterious chemistry going on - praise it."

"Aunty just got up from her chair on the gallery and said in at the front door, "Seven years bad luck little feist," for the broken mirror.  (Oh, she had it, seven and more.)"

"I'd lie there in my bed and want to die, and think - is this what parents have to come to, a creepin at night through room and room with a shotgun after the ghosts of their children who've gone away and left them lonely and sleepless and chokin in the night?"

"O what's the meanin of it all?  There must be some meanin somewhere - it cain't all be just this rabblement and helter-skelter."

"We ought to see it that we make good memry for ourselves, like a slow and perfect stitchin, as we go along, and embroidry a good and lovely memry out of all the tread we one day have to set, alone, and unravel, stitch by stitch."

"You didn't want to flicker around East Texas, you wanted to blaze in the world, to sparkle, to shine, to glisten in the great evil world."

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