I didn’t discover William Goyen until the 1970s and since that date, I have come to admire him as one of the best writers (especially of short fiction) I have read. He was born in Trinity, Texas and he writes of the ‘river-haunted, bewitched’ East Texas landscape so expertly one can visualize it. He is a true storyteller.
Below are extracts from The Collected Stories of William Goyen.
There were two disturbances in Mrs. Marcy Samuels’ life that were worrying her nearly insane. First, it was, and had been for two years now, Grandpa Samuels, who should have long ago been dead but kept wheeling around her house in his wheel chair, alive as ever. The first year he came to live with them it was plain that he was in good health and would probably live long. But during the middle of the second year he fell thin and coughing and after that there were some weeks when Mrs. Samuels and her husband, Watson, were sure on Monday that he would die and relieve them of him before Saturday. Yet he wheeled on and on, not ever dying at all.
… Now this is about the lives of Old Mrs. Woman, Sister Sammye, and Little Pigeon, and how they forged a household; but first, about Ole Mrs. Woman.
Her early name, and rightful one, was Lucille Purdy; and she had had a pretty good life until she started getting fat. Lucille’s husband, a tall, good looking man, with no stomach, a good chest and a deep voice, but he had evil lips–and whose mother had lived with him and Lucille from the day they married until the day she died in Lucille’s arms–had begun to hurrah her some two or three years back, especially when he saw her in her nightgown. He had said, “Lucille one thing I cannot stand and that is a fat woman; I’ll leave you, swear to God, if you ever get fat. . . .” At first Lucille had laughed and said, “Don’t worry Mr. Purdy (no one ever heard her call him anything but Mr. Purdy–when his name was Duke), I won’t; I have already given up bread and potatoes.