Images of Truth: Remembrances and Criticism

By Glenway Wescott | Go to book overview

Chapter Two
Katherine Anne Porter Personally

The only real voyage is not an approach to landscapes but a viewing of the universe with the eyes of a hundred other people.

-- MARCEL PROUST

Having had the pleasure of lifelong friendship with Miss Porter, I find it irksome to call her "Miss Porter." It has been mainly a comradeship of the literary life, and on that account perhaps, in conversation and in correspondence, I often address her as "Porter." A host of her fellow writers and others speak of her and to her as "Katherine Anne," with or without a basis of intimacy. Somewhat like Jane Austen, or like Colette, she has an unassuming sort of celebrity that invites or at least inspires friendliness. Let me now also take the fond informal tone, to celebrate the publication of her novel Ship of Fools, twenty years in the making.

First, some facts: She was born on May 15, 1890, in Texas, in "soft blackland farming country, full of fruits and flowers and birds," on the banks of a branch of the Colorado River denominated Indian Creek, small and clear, unimportant but unforgettable. She went to a convent school, perhaps more than one, and was an uneven student: A in history and composition and other subjects having to do with literature, but, she admits, "D in everything else, including deportment, which sometimes went down to E and stopped there."

She spent an important part of her girlhood in New Orleans, and afterward lived in New York City and in Mexico City and in Paris and in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and in more recent years,

-25-

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