Part fable and part rhapsodic exploration of desire and loss, Half a Look of Cain bears Goyen's unmistakable artistic signature on every page. Told as a series of nested episodes, the novel is narrated alternately by a male nurse, his patient, and a lighthouse keeper. As boundaries blur and connections between the men emerge, Half a Look of Cain becomes a meditation on communion and alienation, and an exploration of emotional and physical longing. The novel is both a rediscovered cry against the conformity and suppressed emotions of the 1950s and a celebration of passion. Reginald Gibbons has edited the novel from the author's multiple manuscripts and has contributed a wonderful afterword.
"William Goyen has always been the most mysterious of writers. He is poet, singer, musician as well as storyteller; he is a seer; a troubled visionary; a spiritual presence in a national literature largely deprived of the spiritual." --Joyce Carol Oates
"Half a Look of Cain is the work of an intelligent, gifted artist." --New York Times Book Review
"A highly charged lyrical tribute to the powers and terrors of 20th-century love and lust." --The Chicago Tribune
William Goyen (1915-1983) was one of America's most innovative writers of fiction. Born in a small town in East Texas, his roots and early years stuck with him through his writing. He served on an aircraft carrier in the South Pacific during WWII where he began the writing of his debut novel, The House of Breath. He published five novels, four story collections, five plays, two works of non-fiction and a collection of poetry.