The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990

120 Southwestern Historical Quarterly
turned to Spain. There he spent his remaining years researching, writ-
ing, and living in genteel poverty with his wife until his death in 1585.
In retirement Zorita completed several books, the most important of
which are the Breve y sumarza relaci6n de los seiores de la Nueva Espafia
and the more inclusive Relaci6n de las cosas notables de la Nueva Espafia.
Both works are widely recognized as important contributions to the his-
tory of Aztec society and of sixteenth-century New Spain.
The book is tightly organized, extremely well researched, and as-
tonishingly well written. Both historians and general readers will enjoy
this excellent example of the craft of biography.
Altadena, Calzfornza HARRY KELSEY
Katherine Anne Porter: Conversatzons. Edited by Joan Givner. (Jackson:
University Press of Mississippi, 1987. Pp. xxiii+ 197. Introduction,
notes, index. $19.95, cloth; $9.95, paper.)
This collection is useful, though not indispensable (since one could
oneself comb through newspapers, journals, and private accounts of
Katherine Anne Porter's lectures, public appearances, and interview
sessions). Givner has collected twenty-four interviews of the remark-
ably witty and talkative author ("not a woman who hesitates very long
in conversation"), which date from 1916 (when Porter was twenty-six)
to 1976 (when she was in her eighty-sixth year). A most useful chro-
nology and index are supplied by the editor.
As students of Porter well know, she was often an unreliable source.
Givner notes, in the informative introduction to the collection, that
Porter invented "a Catholic upbringing and convent education, and ...
an elopement at the age of sixteen from a New Orleans convent to
marry a man much older than herself.... She suppresses her age,
baptismal name, lowly origin as the daughter of a poor dirt-farmer,
childhood religion, and at least one of her husbands" (p. viii). "I have
no hidden marriages," she once said. "They just escape my mind"
(p. 108). One of her favorite anecdotes concerned Madame DuBarry,
who said on the way to her execution, "My life is incredible. I don't be-
lieve a word of it" (p. 166). So with Porter.
Porter once responded to Thomas Wolfe's insistence that "you can't
go home again" with the curt "Nonsense, it's the only place you can go"
(p. 189). Born in Indian Creek, Texas, in 1890, she was always a "Texas
writer," even though she roamed widely, and though she perhaps rep-
presented a more southern and genteel aspect of Texas that more re-
cent Texas authors would prefer to forget.
Indeed, Katherine Anne Porter's national reputation takes her,
strictly speaking, out of the classification of Texas writer. Her themes

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101213/. Accessed September 22, 2014.