THE HOUSE OF BREATH by William Goyen
Kirkus Star

THE HOUSE OF BREATH

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An exquisitely written and often brilliant first novel by a young Texan whose short stories have appeared in such places as Accent Southwest Review. Penguin New and New Directions The word style here is rhythmic, poetic and the phrases are flexible, flowing into one another as do the characters of the book. There are no boundaries or lines or hard shapes to Mr. Goyen's experimental, surrealistic style, although its very fluidity has something of the form of Thomas Wolfe, Eudora Welty, William Faulkner -- and, occasionally, of Joyce. Set in Charity, Texas, it treats of the town, the Ganchion house and the river on a kind of anthropomorphic level; all are intensely alive and imbued with human qualities. The river is at once a God and a sensual human being and brings to mind sections of William Carios Williams' poem, Pater the house is an alive shell full of whispers and within it are symbols like a ship in a bottle, a seashell that has the sounds of the ocean in it, a mirror, a picture, a map, etc. Christy and the Boy Ganchion stare at the map until it melts for them and the world flows into the individual and one becomes the other. The blind mother sits alone and the wind through the shutters brings memories of her life and children -- alive and dead; there are those of the town, an actor and a homosexual who is ""tinsel all the way"", Granny, Otey who is married to Christy and who drowns in the river. Everyone either dies or moves away. A beautiful, sensitive and creative book which is apt to provoke a good deal of critical attention.

Pub Date: Aug. 18th, 1950
Publisher: Random House