Kay Boyle Essay - Boyle, Kay (Vol. 1)

Boyle, Kay (Vol. 1)

Boyle, Kay 1903–

American short story writer, novelist, and poet. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 15-16.)

At her best, Miss Boyle focuses on a single character, often a child, bringing his thoughts, his reactions to life, without any of the phoniness and forced Dick-and-Jane diction that often plagues recollections of childhood….

Miss Boyle, for the most part, is [no longer] writing stories, but instead has turned to liberal propaganda, and not particularly original propaganda at that. Freedom is good, tyranny is bad, war messes things up—all of this is familiar. Even when we agree with her liberal principles, we want to be shown, as in her earlier work, not preached at.

Betty Hoyenga, "A Question of Fiction" (© 1966 by University of Nebraska Press; reprinted by permission from Prairie Schooner), in Prairie Schooner, Winter, 1966–67, pp. 370-71.

[Kay Boyle's] discursively eloquent poems [in Testament for My Students] are museums full of select political, moral, and social attitudes. She is a veteran of the avant garde, and her book is dotted with names of record from Caresse Crosby to James Baldwin and with battle-themes: "the Jews", homosexuals, students, blacks, liberal professors, etc. At the same time, many of her poems contain at least passages of light beyond the rhetoric. And there are a few relatively short pieces which are fine distillations of spirit, worldly but uncorrupted. Perhaps the most striking poem in the collection is ["A Short Poem in Color"] only fifteen lines long but as toughly poignant as something in Catullus.

M. L. Rosenthal, "Plastic Possibilities" (© 1971 by The Modern Poetry Association; reprinted by permission of the Editor of Poetry), in Poetry, November, 1971, p. 101.