True to her name, Williams’s slim collection is a joy to read and will leave you puzzling over the absurdity of man and the divinity of God — or even God’s existence. Every story, be it a few sentences or a few pages long, is well-crafted and filled with the hilarity, wit, and thoughtfulness we’ve come to expect from Williams. The slenderness of the collection may inspire you to devour it all in one sitting — don’t! These are tales meant to be savored from bite to bite. Recommended By Kate L., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
From “quite possibly America’s best living writer of short stories” (NPR), Ninety-Nine Stories of God finds Joy Williams reeling between the sublime and the surreal, knocking down the barriers between the workaday and the divine.
Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist Joy Williams has a one-of-a-kind gift for capturing both the absurdity and the darkness of everyday life. In Ninety-Nine Stories of God, she takes on one of mankind’s most confounding preoccupations: the Supreme Being.
This series of short, fictional vignettes explores our day-to-day interactions with an ever-elusive and arbitrary God. It’s the Book of Common Prayer as seen through a looking glass―a powerfully vivid collection of seemingly random life moments. The figures that haunt these stories range from Kafka (talking to a fish) to the Aztecs, Tolstoy to Abraham and Sarah, O. J. Simpson to a pack of wolves. Most of Williams’s characters, however, are like the rest of us: anonymous strivers and bumblers who brush up against God in the least expected places or go searching for Him when He’s standing right there. The Lord shows up at a hot-dog-eating contest, a demolition derby, a formal gala, and a drugstore, where he’s in line to get a shingles vaccination. At turns comic and yearning, lyric and aphoristic, Ninety-Nine Stories of God serves as a pure distillation of one of our great artists.
“Admirers of Williams―and anyone who treasures a story well told should be one―will find much to like here.” Kirkus (Starred Review)
“[T]hese stories are 100% Williams: funny, unsettling, and mysterious, to be puzzled over and enjoyed across multiple readings.” Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Fans of Williams will not be disappointed in this latest offering. The stories, rather than devotional, or a sweet reminiscence of divine intervention, are a series of vignettes that throw into sharp relief the rippling something in the back of humanity's daily lives. When God appears by name, he is a character, bemused and sometimes befuddled by the creatures he has created, curious and sometimes surprised by the features humanity has bestowed on him. The Lord appears intermittently, trying out new material. It's as if Williams took the song What If God Was One of Us? and gave it flesh, pondering God's visit with wolves or adoption of a turtle. Though God does not appear by name in every story, something of the divine echoes in each, something larger than the humans that populate each chapter. Each story is brief, with some less than a paragraph. Some amaze, some are quietly powerful, some gracefully absurd. Much like the divine, Williams' prose is simple and brutal, thoughtful and haunting. A spare but startling book." Booklist (Starred Review)
About the Author
Williams is the author of four novels. Her first, State of Grace (1973), was nominated for a National Book Award for Fiction. Her most recent novel, The Quick and the Dead (2000), was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Her first collection of short stories was Taking Care, published in 1982. A second collection, Escapes, followed in 1990. A 2001 essay collection, Ill Nature: Rants and Reflections on Humanity and Other Animals, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism. Honored Guest, a collection of short stories, was published in 2004. A 30th anniversary reprint of The Changeling was issued in 2008 with an introduction by the American novelist Rick Moody. She lives in Key West, Florida, and Tucson, Arizona. She was married for 34 years to L. Rust Hills, famous Esquire fiction editor, who died August 12, 2008.