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It Was Like My Trying to Have a Tender-Hearted Nature: A Novella and Storiesby Diane Williams
Synopses & Reviews
This work by Diane Williams delves into the strange relationships of men and women. From marital betrayal to spousal abuse and unrelenting desire, Williams illuminates the lives of her characters in prose as sparse and stark as it is beautiful. These stories are as short as prose poems and as complex as novels. In them, meanings remain ambiguous and consequences seem uncertain. In the novella “On Sexual Strength” she describes the intense and sometimes strange relationship between two neighboring couples and the rage that comes with adultery, and a narrator whose social inadequacies and lack of inhibitions lead to destruction.
The world Williams creates is a sensual place where quiet epiphanies—such as the one that occurs after an extramarital affair— are also possible: “It was like
My Trying to Have a Tender-Hearted nature. This is how love can be featured.” Such flashes of insight and emotion glue together the fragments of life Williams lays before the reader, and the reader rejoices at the revelations.
From Our Staff:
These punchy pieces defamiliarize Williams's really mundane subject matter: domestic minutia, love affairs, etc. Small happenings in one's "normal" day are radically reframed to tease out an incongruity within human interactions, manners, and language. The stories (and the very short novella) are economical with words to a cutthroat level. They're funny, too, almost operating as jokes. Pure brilliance.
"One doesn't expect the author of Some Sexual Success Stories Plus Other Stories in Which God Might Choose to Appear and of This Is About The Body, the Mind, the Soul, the World, Time, and Fate to be completely serious, or slight. This short book is neither, and it harnesses Williams's essentially comic sensibility to highly sophisticated, highly satisfying ends. The book opens with 'On Sexual Strength (A Novella),' which consists of 36 titled prose pieces of half a page or less, all fuguing around a Mr. Bird; his wife, Blanche; and a first-person narrator, Enrique Woytus: 'I am the neighbor.' Its opening lines-'Mr. Bird was sexually strong. That sounds good'-set the tone: its parody of genre fiction and of Beckett-like writerly self-reference continues throughout. As Woytus and Mrs. Bird get into compromising situations, Woytus's narration takes on a self-help-like quality ('Both physical and emotional elements almost forced me to have moderate satisfaction') and his own marriage is affected. The remaining 40-odd pieces continue in the same vein (veins are a favorite here), with surprising and explicit juxtapositions throughout. Williams's irony never feels forced or distancing; instead, it allows her to get into some very messy facets of human desire as it gets rammed through American life." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
This work by Diane Williams delves into the strange relationships of men and women. From marital betrayal to spousal abuse and unrelenting desire, Williams illuminates the lives of her characters in prose as sparse and stark as it is beautiful.
About the Author
Diane Williams is the author of Romancer Erector Excitability, The Stupefaction, Some Sexual Success Stories Plus Other Stories in Which God Might Choose to Appear, and This Is About the Body, the Mind, the Soul, the World, Time, and Fate. She is the editor of the literary annual Noon.
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