Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Places Where I’ve Done Time is not a formal autobiography but a collection of sixty-eight vignettes, some shorter than one page and none longer than three pages, describing places, houses, hotels, or buildings (in one case, a water tank) that had some significance in William Saroyan’s life. Each of the sections also carries a date. None of the little essays leads into or connects with another; in fact, in order to indicate further that the reader should not take the book as a formal account of the author’s life, Saroyan mixes locales and time periods rather than proceeding chronologically. The first section, which describes a racetrack in San Francisco, is dated 1932; the next, an account of Saroyan’s brother Henry’s visit with aging poet Joaquin Miller, is from 1912; and the third is a description of the apartment where Saroyan lived in 1929 after returning from a failed effort to be a writer in New York. The last two essays describe Paris in 1969, but just before they appear there is an account of a flower shop in San Francisco in 1930. Either Saroyan wrote the essays in a random fashion, describing the places as he happened to remember them, or, if he did start with the history of his life in mind, he shuffled the pages.

The content of these essays is also not easy to organize. In most of them, Saroyan uses the place that he is describing to explain something that happened to him in that spot, such as his bitter disappointment at...

(The entire section is 502 words.)

Places Where I've Done Time Bibliography

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Balakian, Nona. The World of William Saroyan. Lewisburg, Pa.: Bucknell University Press, 1998.

Calonne, David Stephen. William Saroyan: My Real Work Is Being. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1983.

Floan, Howard R. William Saroyan. New York: Twayne, 1966.

Foard, Elisabeth C. William Saroyan: A Reference Guide. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1989.

Foster, Edward Halsey. William Saroyan. Boise, Idaho: Boise State University Press, 1984.

Foster, Edward Halsey. William Saroyan: A Study of the Short Fiction. New York: Twayne, 1991.

Hamalian, Leo, ed. William Saroyan: The Man and Writer Remembered. Rutherford, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1987.

Haslam, Gerald W. “William Saroyan.” In A Literary History of the American West, edited by Thomas J. Lyon et al. Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1987.

Keyishian, Harry, ed. Critical Essays on William Saroyan. New York: G. K. Hall, 1995.

Lee, Lawrence, and Barry Gifford. Saroyan: A Biography. 1984. Reprint. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.

Leggett, John. A Daring Young Man: A Biography of William Saroyan. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002.

Saroyan, Aram. William Saroyan. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1983.

Whitmore, Jon. William Saroyan: A Research and Production Sourcebook. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994.