This spare debut collection of short stories provides a moody snapshot of modern life and love.
A sense of transience and dislocation pervades this collection of 21 short stories about the slippery relationships and maturational struggles and setbacks of 20- and 30-somethings today. The men and women who provisionally populate these pages often appear to be passing through chapters in their lives, moving from one place or phase to another. They are divorcing spouses, leaving lovers (or being left by them), quitting jobs, packing up house and moving on, or away, or back home. Written in spare prose that in several cases casts the reader as its subject—“You’ve quit your job, your flat, your boyfriend,” Williams writes in “Sundaes at the Tipping Yard,” about a woman who begins a Creative Writing MFA—the stories feel confessional, deeply personal, almost diaristic, as if they are being downloaded directly into our own brains or perhaps not intended for other ears at all. They also convey a broad everything-at-once awareness in which the ends of things are written into the beginnings of them: the eventual divorce apparent at the moment of marriage or the inevitable bad outcome of a date foretold in the care one has taken to dress for it. Loves are found and lost. A sense of self is lost and found. Williams can limn huge swaths of a character’s life in a handful of pages by zeroing in on details that communicate everything about everything, all in an instant.
Williams’ painstakingly, pointillistically composed portraits capture the small moments that can change the trajectory of a life.