René Steinke

  • Texas Ex

    The piney backwoods of East Texas might be the unlikeliest place on earth to produce a writer like William Goyen. Cultured and restless, he escaped via the navy, and he might have easily become an artist who left home and never looked back. Instead, that “pastoral, river-haunted, tree-shaded, mysterious and bewitched” landscape loomed large, no matter how far he traveled. “Standing before great paintings in Venice or Paris, I saw my own people in Rembrandt’s, my own countryside in Corot’s, Europa was my fat cousin in Trinity Texas.” The son of a lumberman, Goyen, born in Trinity in 1915, spent

  • syllabi January 13, 2014

    Flannery O’Connor, Faith, and Fiction

    In Flannery O’Connor’s recently published prayer journal, which she wrote in her early twenties, her ambitions as a fiction writer often get entangled with her aspirations to summon God into the work itself. “Start with the soul and perhaps the temporal gifts I want to exercise will have their chance. . . . God must be in all my work.” (See our review.) What makes her fiction great is not her intention to write directly about “Christian principles”; such an aim could have easily steered her to produce sermonizing fables or sentimental inspirational tales. Rather, her deeply original, dark, and

  • Engine of Grace

    Flannery O’Connor’s readers either revere her fiction because it’s immersed in the mystery of Christianity or admire the work in spite of this. A Prayer Journal will naturally be embraced by the first group. But the book should also appeal to those who find this writer’s concern with “the action of grace” a puzzling aesthetic curiosity—because the prayer journal is also the journal of a writer scouting her own cosmology and beginning to discern its grand and peculiar design in her art.

    The manuscript was discovered in the form of a Sterling marble composition notebook among O’Connor’s papers,