THROWBACK THURSDAY: REVIEWING A REISSUE
Tin House Books has elected to reissue this book, Ninety-Nine Stories of God, by Pulitzer and National Book Award finalist, Joy Williams. This is a collection of what might be considered ‘flash’ fiction. Very short (many not even a page in length) works each with a theme of how God is (or might be) present in our lives. Some of these accounts are clearly fictitious (or at least an imagining) and some feel as though they might be drawn straight from the author or reader’s life.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this collection, having never read anything by Ms. Williams prior to this. I wondered if it might be some form of daily devotional – a series of uplifting reflections. But coming from a an author short-listed for the Pulitzer and National Book Award, I suspected it might be something quite different. It is definitely something quite different.
What I found quite appealing about this book was the subtle sense of whimsy. For example, in one short story, we read about a dog whose mistress always wore sunglasses, day and night and
When the woman had people over, she placed a big bowl of sunglasses outside the front door and everyone put on a pair before entering. It was easier than locking the dog in the bedroom.
This story is called “NOCHE”. Or the story “ACTUALLY” … which is so short I can’t really even quote from it without reproducing the entire story. As was the case with “ESSENTIAL ENOUGH” which I found tremendously amusing and at the same time sometime to reflect upon.
And how can you not enjoy the humor in a collection like this when you have stories with titles like “HER EYES WERE SET RATHER CLOSE TOGETHER, WHICH GAVE HER AN URGENT AIR”?
Not surprisingly, not all of these shorts were gems or appealed to me. I suppose it would be too much to expect that all ninety-nine stories have a strong impact on the reader, but there is enough here to make this a very strong collection. Sometimes the presence of God is hard to find, but I often found these stories to be the more interesting stories to reflect on.
Over-all, I was pleasantly surprised by these stories. Whimsical, reflective, and brief, this is a quick and entertaining read.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Ninety-Nine Stories of God
author: Joy Williams
publisher: Tin House Books
hardcover, 168 pages