7 October 2016

Read some Diane Williams interviews, feel gently unsettled

Posted by Megan Marsh

EVENT: Diane Williams will be coming to the Bookshop on the 10 October to discusss her latest collection of avante garde short stories with Kirsty Gunn. Book tickets now.

Diane Williams has a style that is unmistakeable once you know it, and this is why reading interviews with her is such a pleasure. It brings you to the realisation that what makes her stories (described by Kirkus Review as ‘centrifugal, supershort and superpithy’) so unusual isn’t the cryptic structuring, fragmented etiquette, uncertain acts or sinister platitudes: it’s her strange and mesmerising sentence structure, and apparently she talks like this all the time.

I’d start with this interview in The White Review —they give you a couple of her stories to read first to get you in the zone —and then she’s straight in, saying things like: ‘The pursuit of intimacy is relatively hopeless in life and is also dangerous.’

I also recommend this series of micro-interviews in The Believer, where you can find Williams stating: ‘I said that literature ought not to be the haven for tea time conversation, for polite speech—that most of us are nearly obliterated by all of our opportunities for polite speech, that without the resources of dreams and literature—and psychoanalysis for the lucky few—the consequences are surely dire. ‘

Are these assertions true? I have no idea, but they’re wonderfully disconcerting. They’re not tea time conversation at all.

You can read more of Diane Williams’ stories in the LRB —she’s one of the few short story writers they publish —and you can hear her talk in person at the Bookshop this Monday. Tickets are available here.