Ninety-nine Stories of God

Author(s): Joy Williams

Short Stories | Read our reviews!

Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist Joy Williams has a one-of-a-kind gift for capturing both the absurdity and the darkness of everyday life. In Ninety-Nine Stories of God, she takes on one of mankind's most confounding preoccupations: the Supreme Being.

This series of short, fictional vignettes explores our day-to-day interactions with an ever-elusive and arbitrary God. It's the Book of Common Prayer as seen through a looking glass-a powerfully vivid collection of seemingly random life moments. The figures that haunt these stories range from Kafka (talking to a fish) to the Aztecs, Tolstoy to Abraham and Sarah, O. J. Simpson to a pack of wolves. Most of Williams' characters, however, are like the rest of us: anonymous strivers and bumblers who brush up against God in the least expected places or go searching for him when he's standing right there. The Lord shows up at a hot-dog-eating contest, a demolition derby, a formal gala, and a drugstore, where he's in line to get a shingles vaccination.

At turns comic and yearning, lyric and aphoristic, Ninety-Nine Stories of God serves as a pure distillation of one of our great artists.

Joy Williams is a devastating observer of social vacuities, yet shows great sympathy for the ways in which her characters attempt to shore up their dissolving realities, and a sharp eye for the tiny details which form the pivots upon which great weights of existence turn. A few years ago The Visiting Privilege introduced many of us to four decades’ worth of work from the underknown Williams, one of America’s finest short story writers, and 99 Stories of God shows her now becoming even sharper, stranger, more despairing and compassionate. The stories, few more than a page long, many a single paragraph or even a sentence, are each written such sharpness and lightness of touch that they draw blood unexpectedly and without pain. Sparely, flatly written, using the language of the newspaper report or the encyclopedia entry, trimmed utterly of superfluities, the stories read like jokes that make us cry instead of laugh, or like laments that make us laugh instead of cry. Comparison may be made with Thomas Bernhard’s The Voice Imitator, the scalpel-work of Lydia Davis or the Franz Kafka of the Zurau Aphorisms, but Williams’ sensibilities and turns of phrase are very much her own: she comes upon her subjects at unexpected angles, giving insight into the strangeness hung on the most ordinary of details (and, conversely, making the strangest of details seem necessary and familiar). The 99 stories have the texture of Biblical parables or Aesopian fables but they are not parables or fables due to the indeterminacy of their meanings (unless they are parables or fables which eschew lessons and morals and return the reader instead to the actual). The title of each follows the story and often sits at odds with the reader’s experience of the story, forcing a further realignment of sensibilities. Brevity, sparsity, clarity: these are distillates of novels, tragedies told as jokes, aqua vitae for anyone who reads, observes, thinks or writes. {THOMAS}
>> Read Williams on what writing is for


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From 'the literary heir to Anton Chekov' (Washington Post) comes 'a treasure trove of bafflements and tiny masterpieces' (New York Times) - brand new microfiction from American master Joy Williams

Funny, fantastical ... Williams' says more in a page-long scene than most can say in a chapter; it's fitting, then, that her very short collection manages to encompass such an eternal theme with wit and grace. Huffington Post To read Joy Williams is to be arrested in a state of relentless awe and wonderment ... why we aren't worshipping Joy Williams in public squares is beyond me Vanity Fair She belongs in the company of Celine and Flannery O'Connor -- James Salter One of our most remarkable storytellers -- Ann Beattie One of the great American short story writers -- Jay McInerney A treasure trove of bafflements and tiny masterpieces ... chains of association appeared and disappeared like currents in a swift-flowing stream The New York Times Radically compressed ... new territory for Williams, with a brevity and a strict whimsy you might encounter in Lydia Davis's work ... easy to follow and hard to fathom; easy to enjoy and harder to absorb New Yorker A collection of tiny, wry masterpieces. [100 Notable Books of the Year] New York Times

Joy Williams is the author of four novels - the most recent, The Quick and the Dead, was a runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize in 2001 - and three collections of stories, as well as Ill Nature, a book of essays that was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Among her many honours are the Rea Award for the Short Story and the Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in Tucson, Arizona, and Laramie, Wyoming.

General Fields

  • : 9781781258804
  • : Profile Books Limited
  • : Tuskar Rock Press
  • : 0.26
  • : April 2017
  • : 19.80 cmmm X 12.90 cmmm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : March 2017
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Joy Williams
  • : Hardback
  • : Main
  • : English
  • : 813.54
  • : 160