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These fifty stories hum with tension, each one so taut that it threatens to snap and send the whole thing sprawling--the mess and desire, the absurdity and hilarity, the bruises and bleeding, the blushes and disappointments and secrets. An audacious, unruly tour de force, "Vicky Swanky Is a Beauty" cements Diane Williams' position as one of the best practitioners of the short form in literature today.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2011-12-12
- Reviewer: Staff
The author’s newest work, an avant-garde exercise in constructing evocative and mysterious microstories, mixes touches of the profane, the fantastic, and the mundane in short stories reminiscent of Zen koans. Some are more conventional then others, but rationality is never required, only brevity. The 51 shorts range in length from the two sentences of “Common Body” (“So, I’ve got good news, but I also felt so bad I was crying. She’s so wrongly old and I’m her daughter, but can she still have children?”) to roughly two pages. The piece that gives this book its title is about a trip taken to the home of Vicky Swanky, according to the narrator, “my ideal, my old friend.” Swanky has not been in good health and there is some sexual tension between them. The narrator has brought a dog, they eat pancakes, and a plumber arrives with bad news. Williams’s book is populated with heartbreak, affairs, and death, and however mystifying passages can be, the author has a sly humor that cuts through everything else. Equal parts satisfying, mysterious, thoughtful, and quick. (Jan.)