It Starts with Trouble: William Goyen and the Life of Writing (Hardback)Clark Davis (author)
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William Goyen was a writer of startling originality and deep artistic commitment whose work attracted an international audience and the praise of such luminaries as Northrop Frye, Truman Capote, Gaston Bachelard, and Joyce Carol Oates. His subject was the land and language of his native East Texas; his desire, to preserve the narrative music through which he came to know his world. Goyen sought to transform the cherished details of his lost boyhood landscape into lasting, mythic forms. Cut off from his native soil and considering himself an "orphan," Goyen brought modernist alienation and experimentation to Texas materials. The result was a body of work both sophisticated and handmade-and a voice at once inimitable and unmistakable.
It Starts with Trouble is the first complete account of Goyen's life and work. It uncovers the sources of his personal and artistic development, from his early years in Trinity, Texas, through his adolescence and college experience in Houston; his Navy service during World War II; and the subsequent growth of his writing career, which saw the publication of five novels, including The House of Breath, nonfiction works such as A Book of Jesus, several short story collections and plays, and a book of poetry. It explores Goyen's relationships with such legendary figures as Frieda Lawrence, Katherine Anne Porter, Stephen Spender, Anais Nin, and Carson McCullers. No other twentieth-century writer attempted so intimate a connection with his readers, and no other writer of his era worked so passionately to recover the spiritual in an age of disabling irony. Goyen's life and work are a testament to the redemptive power of storytelling and the absolute necessity of narrative art.
Publisher: University of Texas Press
Number of pages: 392
Weight: 680 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 38 mm
"More than three decades after [Goyen's] death, his stubbornness finds its reward in this smart, admiring and attentive biography by Clark Davis." * The New York Times Sunday Book Review *
"In this stellar biography, Davis (After the Whale) deftly examines the life of a complex and overlooked figure in the history of American literature . . . This lively and enlightening biography will resurrect Goyen's brilliant writing for a new generation of readers." * Publishers Weekly, starred review *
"This biography offers a thorough and illuminating grounding." * Kirkus *
"By writing a biography that focuses on an author's work as much as it focuses on his drama-filled biography, Davis has successfully avoided writing a sensationalistic book. As an added benefit, he has avoided speculating about the unknown facts of the life of a man who was 'often sharply protective of his personal information,' who 'worked very hard to maintain control of his image.'" * Lambda Literary *
"In It Starts With Trouble, Clark Davis makes the compelling case that William Goyen deserves to be discovered again by American readers.
" * Dallas Morning News *
"Ultimately, what makes It Starts With Trouble an essential read for anyone interested in literature and art is Davis's painstaking research combined with the passion and intelligence he brings to his subject, bolstering a compelling case to reclaim Goyen's place in American letters . . . . Like Goyen, Davis understands what writing is for. He reminds us of the stakes of art, of being an artist.
" * Los Angeles Review of Books *
"Davis is a strong, clear-eyed biographer and an engaging writer, and It Starts with Trouble will do its job of drawing critical attention back to one of the strangest of Texas' native sons." * Texas Observer *
"An excellent new study of Goyen's life and work." * Texas Monthly *
"Clark Davis has undertaken the challenge of setting William Goyen among his contemporaries, a place where he should have always belonged . . . Exploring the extraordinary life that began in Trinity, Texas, It Starts With Trouble is a great guide for those wishing to learn more about Charles William Goyen as a writer, a husband, and a human being." * Texas Books in Review *
"Davis is uncommonly adept at keeping the narrative of Goyen's life in East Texas, Taos, New Mexico, Rome, New York, California, Germany, well-paced, while working in sensitive commentary on the art and substance of the writing. . . . [His] life of Goyen may inspire readers to dust off and open the works-among the finest in world fiction." -- David Madden * The Key Reporter *