THIS IS ABOUT THE BODY, THE MIND, THE SOUL, THE WORLD, TIME, AND FATE by Diane Williams

THIS IS ABOUT THE BODY, THE MIND, THE SOUL, THE WORLD, TIME, AND FATE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The almost 50 short-short stories in this debut volume are also about desire, obsession, jealousy, incest, suicide, death, masturbation, murder, and hair. Williams, who coedits Story Quarterly, exults in her brevity. Not one of these word-bites, many of which have appeared in The Quarterly and Conjunctions, exceeds three pages. But don't mistake these little snippets for prose poems. There's no lyricism here, no meditative quality, no sharp images. Many are about trying to find meaning in odd actions or facts. When one funny piece, ""Here's Another Ending,"" about a twice-dead rabbit, ends with a punch, Williams mocks its very pointedness. More typical is ""Cloud,"" in which a woman knocked to the ground by a man thinks on her descent, ""It's as easy as my first fuck."" Hints of sexual kinkiness abound: a woman aroused by seeing boys hit by a car; a woman lusting for an effeminate waiter; a woman ecstatic at pleasurable cardiogram; a woman recalling adolescent homosexual groping; a woman imagining the logistics of an odd couple in lovemaking; a woman masturbating after attending a bat mitzvah. The only piece in which characters have names is deliberately meant to be generic--about Anyman wanting to put his penis between Anywoman's breasts. Many of the women here--or are they one woman?--fear infidelity, but not in the ordinary way. One resents a bombshell she sees at the post office for being the kind of woman who ""could easily steal away"" her husband. Another cheats in anticipation of her husband's imagined adultery. Yet another ponders her husband's lover's orgasms. Lots of violence haunt these aborted musings. We learn about the woman who loves her dog, which, in turn, loves the woman's murderer--this points to the next pearl that repeats ""There is nothing I can think of that is fair."" Randomness reigns; disjointed phenomena prove ""Everything means something, or it does not."" Minimalism in extremis: hollow and monotonous.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1989
Publisher: Grove Weidenfeld