"I cannot live without books." -- Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Diane Williams

Diane Williams is the literary daughter of Gertrude Stein and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and the more eccentric (which is saying something) literary sister of Lydia Davis.

We carry three of her books. Vicky Swanky is a Beauty, published in a beautiful hardcover by McSweeney's, is her latest and easiest to find. We also carry Romancer Erector and Excitability, which are more difficult to find, and therefore, a bit more exciting. Excitability, in particular, is interesting because it's an earlier collection, and she's not as solidified in her opaque style. She's finding her way to it, which is fascinating to observe, and then to experience in full force in Vicky Swanky and Romancer.

She's not for everyone, but if she's for you, you will love her. For me, it's the closest that prose comes to poetry, the kind of poetry that comes the closest to music, communicating a mood or a feeling in a way that transcends words. Her writing defies explanation, which you can gather by a quick glance at her blurbs, as the reviewers vaguely but enthusiastically endorse her. In light of this, I've included a story from "Excitability" below, which I think is a pretty good example of what she's all about:


How it was in the aftermath of it, was that her body was in the world, not how it had ever been in the world before, in her little room or in their rooms--the people who own the rooms--or at least were managing the rooms, their hallways, or the stairwell, which was not hers either, that she went through and through and through. A man laughed at her for what she had said, and then someone had brought her to this bed.
She looked at the bed stacked high with so many coats, and she decided, It all stops here.
She was clearing up to be helpful before she left, steering herself, when she saw her purse go flying and then it fell down into a corner.
She was down too, walloped by a blow, by some man, and she thought, I understand. She thought, This is easy. She thought, it's as easy as my first fuck. She had opened up so wide.
In the street, crossing to go home, her purse swung on her arm by its strap. She thought the dark air was so soft to walk through.
And for all that the girl knew there had not been a jot on her when she looked--no proof JACK WAS HERE! on her skin in red and in bright green ink, with any exclamation she could see, about them doing things, or about any one of them being of the opinion that her tits sucked.
And for the rest of her life, the girl, the woman, she never made a mark on anyone either that proved anything absolutely for certain, that she could ever see, about what she had done at any time, and this does not break her heart.

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