Had I a Hundred Mouths (Magill's Literary Annual 1986)
William Goyen was born in eastern Texas in 1915. His home state provides the setting for many of these selected stories, which span his more than thirty-five years as a writer of fiction. The Texas of the first decade of this century, particularly the developing Houston, is described in “Zamour, or a Tale of Inheritance”; this story’s turn-of-the-century setting is the most remote time period Goyen employs in these stories. His other Texan stories cover events in the subsequent decades of the twentieth century, such as the flagpole sitters and tent-meeting religious revivals of the 1920’s and 1930’s, in both “Rhody’s Path” and “Figure Over the Town,” and modern industrial pollution and the decay of once-beautiful nature spots in “Bridge of Music, River of Sand.”
More important than where or when Goyen sets a story is how he sets it. In an interview with Reginald Gibbons in 1982 (which concludes this volume of stories and adds helpful commentary on Goyen’s own views of his art), Goyen declares that he is not a realist. His uses of geographic places and particular eras in several of the stories remain nebulous, and this lack of specificity is compensated for in Goyen’s very powerful, detailed use of images and symbols in his fiction.
Some of Goyen’s best images spring from the natural environment. There is a natural cave made of trees that shelters lovers, rapists, and fugitives in this volume’s title story,...
(The entire section is 1988 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1986)
Booklist. LXXXI, June 1, 1985, p. 1370.
Christian Science Monitor. LXXVII, September 16, 1985, p. 25.
Kirkus Reviews. LIII, April 1, 1985, p. 294.
Library Journal. CX, July, 1985, p. 93.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. July 28, 1985, p. 1.
The New York Times Book Review. XC, June 9, 1985, p. 28.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXVII, April 5, 1985, p. 64.
(The entire section is 41 words.)