The Collected Stories of Diane Williams

Ange Mlinko writes:

Rushing out of the house for an appointment, I grabbed what I thought was Diane Williams’s Collected Stories. When I retrieved the book from my bag, I was surprised to find it was actually the latest volume of Sylvia Plath’s letters: they’re both large hardbacks whose pale jackets are touched with baby blue. The switcheroo generated unforeseen connections. If I had been unsure how to classify Williams’s 310 stories – all of them between one and four pages long – I now saw that each was about the same length as one of Plath’s letters. Williams’s fiction has the rhythm and diction of East Coast speech, and the intensity and sociality of the letter-writer who cranks herself up to offer a distillate from the endlessly mundane. ‘Certain animals,’ she writes in ‘A Woman’s Fate’, ‘have intentions to awe, to comfort, to guide, to be gossipy – to be observant, to be sly, to be thoughtful, and more. To be witty, to come to light, to be worth waiting for.’

(LRB 18 April 2019)