The Stupefactionby Diane Williams
Praising her ingenious subversions of the conventions of narrative. The New York Times has called Diane Williams "a master spy, a double agent in the house of fiction." In this book she broadens the riotously disruptive program of her earlier collections. piecing together stories out of jagged shards of consciousness to give form to our most complicated… See more details below
Praising her ingenious subversions of the conventions of narrative. The New York Times has called Diane Williams "a master spy, a double agent in the house of fiction." In this book she broadens the riotously disruptive program of her earlier collections. piecing together stories out of jagged shards of consciousness to give form to our most complicated longings.
In the title novella, Williams offers her version of paradise: A woman runs off with a man on an enchanted journey across an enchanted landscape to an enchanted house, where their time is spent proving all the pleasures eating, drinking, bathing, slumbering, and coupling and where fantastic creatures, ravishing objects, and enthralling notions present themselves. But this sensual, blissful tale also becomes, in the female narrator's artful telling, a vehicle of discovery as she passes from state to state eluding our expectations of her.
The novella, Williams's first longer work, is accompanied by forty-nine short pieces, all of them superbly wry and knowing instances of the "sudden fiction" for which she is renowned. The Stupefaction is a stunning illumination of the heart and mind from one of our most innovative and audacious writers.
However tiny these 49 (not counting the "novella") pieces may be, the reader often struggles to figure out what they meanand even then the effort may not seem worth it, especially when the narrator herself suggests the same feeling, as in "The Fuss" ("I cannot form an idea from this") or "Escapade" (". . . I am getting smaller and smaller and some of the stories I tell are not true. Maybe it is merely an experience of happiness that I must endure"). That neither of those pieces is much over 50 words long does little to assuage the tormented reader, as neither do Williams's blunt attempts to rattle readerly complacency ("your face is as composed as my vulva is," says a woman in "Desperately Trying to Lie Down" while "An Opening Chat" openswell, this way: "I am glad he is this man here so that I can do a fuck with someone, but I am regarded as a better cock-sucker"). Still, William's tiny pieces aren't void either of content ("He dragged me along to this refined filth of a hotel, which aroused my truest false feeling""Speech") or wit ("We manage to copulate occasionally and to remain ill- qualified""The Idealist"). As for her novella, it's (apparently) about a couple ("She is nice, but she has aged") on a sex-tryst ("having put his impressively distinct penis up inside of her") in a cabin that's visited by an extraterrestrial of whom the speaker is able to say: "Its profile is remarkably like my mother's."
Only those incapable of laughter will dislike all of this small book, while even the most sympathetic will have to work for what they get.
- Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.79(w) x 8.72(h) x 0.78(d)
Meet the Author
Diane Williams is the author of This is About the Body, the Mind, the Soul, the World, Time, and Fate and Some Sexual Success Stories Plus Other Stories in Which God Might Choose to Appear. She is coeditor of Story-Quarterly and lives in New York City.
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