It Starts with Trouble
by Clark Davis
Austin: University of Texas Press, 2015
363 pp. $30.00 cloth
A Glance at Essential Texana
Clark Davis has undertaken the challenge of setting William Goyen among his contemporaries, a place where he should have always belonged. Goyen was born in 1915 in the small town of Trinity located in East Texas. Seven years later, Goyen’s family left the countryside and settled in Houston. It was here Goyen began to feel he was in exile. During World War II, Goyen enlisted in the Navy as a way to escape from Houston, and afterwards he moved to Taos, New Mexico, where he was able to focus on his writing. In 1947 Goyen’s first short story “The White Rooster” was published by Mademoiselle and then later the original version, which was unedited, was published by Horizon. This was followed by the publication of his first novel The House of Breath in 1950. Then Goyen met and married the actress Doris Roberts, best known for her role as Marie Barone in the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond. Two months after dying from leukemia in 1983, Goyen’s final novel Arcadio was published.
Davis explains that Goyen associated himself with being “southwestern” and never strictly “southern”. As Davis takes the reader through Goyen’s family origins from South Carolina and Mississippi to east Texas, one can see how big a role storytelling and observation played in the formation of Goyen’s work. Exploring the extraordinary life that began in Trinity, Texas, It Starts With Trouble is a great guide for those wishing to learn more about Charles William Goyen as a writer, a husband, and a human being.