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It Was Like My Trying to Have a Tender-Hearted Nature, It Was Like My Trying to Have a Tender-Hearted Nature, 0817380515, 0-8173-8051-5, 978-0-8173-8051-9, 9780817380519, , , It Was Like My Trying to Have a Tender-Hearted Nature, 1573661406, 1-57366-140-6, 978-1-57366-140-9, 9781573661409,

It Was Like My Trying to Have a Tender-Hearted Nature
A Novella and Stories
by Diane Williams

E Book
2007. 152 pp.
978-0-8173-8051-9
Price:  $9.95 t
Quality Paper
2007. 146 pp.
978-1-57366-140-9
Price:  $14.95 t

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.

SRDP 4
“Diane Williams reminds me a little of Jane Bowles, a little of Laura Riding. She is one of the very few contemporary prose writers who seem to be doing
something independent, energetic, heartfelt.”
—Lydia Davis


"With the uproarious rudeness of a great mind, Diane Williams writes surprise after surprise, radically reinvented, indecorous and daring and downright funny
stories."
—Christine Schutt

“Diane Williams’s singular, unsettling genius has never been as memorably and heartrendingly evident as in this virtuosic new collection of richly gnomic
fictions that are, as always, sublimely vital in every line.”
—Gary Lutz

“Diane Williams is one of the true living heroes of the American avant-garde. Her fiction makes very familiar things very, very weird.”
—Jonathan Franzen


“These outrageous and ferociously strange stories test the limits of behavior, of manners, of language, and mark Diane Williams as a startlingly original writer
worthy of our closest attention.”
—Ben Marcus

“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

“One of America's most exciting violators of habit is (Diane)Williams, who has written six books of fiction, beginning with 1990's all-encompassing story collection This Is About the Body, the Mind, the Soul, the World, Time, and Fate. ….Williams is also quite the aphorist, as in the wife's Dantean remark ‘Where does one end begin and the other end end’ and the comment ‘Nobody thinks of a ghost of a chance as a real chance.’ She likes to reinvigorate idiomatic expressions, clichés and dead metaphors: ‘Inside their house Blanche was breaking new ground. She was hard up against her value as a human being and she could not last much longer.’ …. Like Samuel Beckett's, Williams' descriptions, even when they're dire, can be comedic in the way that they call attention to the absurdity of the rhetoric of description, as in the story ‘Stronger Than a Man, Simpler Than a Woman’: ‘I will describe Marie-Rose to you. She is tough. Tough getting tougher. Very tough. Hard. I'd say hard.’…. (And,) Williams' musicality and grammatical wackiness are reminiscent of those of another great modernist, Gertrude Stein….What, then, is good about depicting egregious feelings and behavior in language that is resolutely strange? Couldn't one, a reader might ask, be coaxed from one's habits of perception by stories written in more quotidian language and depicting more kindness and politeness? Perhaps, but the extremity that Williams depicts and the extremity of the depiction evoke something akin to the pity and fear that the great writers of antiquity considered central to literature. Her stories, by removing you from ordinary literary experience, place you more deeply in ordinary life. ‘Isn't ordinary life strange?’ they ask, and in so asking, they revivify and console.”
--Matthew Sharpe, The Los Angeles Times

“Then there was this strange, beguiling slip of a thing from Diane Williams: It Was Like My Trying to Have a Tender-Hearted Nature (Fiction Collective 2), short stories and a novella in which Enrique Woytus, a fur sales manager, falls in love with his neighbor's wife, a predicament rife with heartbreak, absurdity and the peculiar combustion that follows when you mix lust and etiquette, with particular attention to the effects on language. ‘I always imagine I am able to explain what I mean in my words,’ insists the besotted Enrique. 
–Liz Brown, Newsday, One of the Best Reads of the Year 2007

“A pioneer of the genre, Diane Williams excels at chiseling narratives out of a few sentences, and her new collection offers more than 40 compressed stories that derive their energy from lopsided syntax, hairpin turns and suggestive omissions. Her interests here tend toward the eeriness of domestic life, especially the ambiguous line between safe and suffocating relationships….Williams is also keenly interested in sexual desire, and her enigmatic prose is often offset by the outright perversity of her characters. ‘On Sexual Strength,’ the novella that anchors the book, is a black comedy about adultery. ‘It may have been that I opened my trousers and I regarded my long penis,’ the narrator muses with some uncertainty. About five lines later, he seems more certain: ‘My semen dropped onto Blanche’s beige slacks.’ Williams delights in pondering the messes people make with, and on, each other. She is today’s premier exponent of the outburst as a literary mode. 
Justin Taylor, Time Out

“You have to slow down to read every word of the forty-one stories and one novella in this collection. Each line manages to be powerfully disorienting and erotically charged, spare and ornate, logical and absurd all at the same time.” –The Story Prize 2007 Short List

“Reading Diane Williams' warped micro-fictions is like peering through your next-door neighbor's window via a high-powered satellite from outer space: the information that comes back is both skewed and impossible to ignore. "
--BOLDYTYPE (2007 Recommended)
 
“…In Williams’s world nothing is still—or if it is still, then it is so momentarily, precariously, and never to be so in the same way again. Beyond the perplexing narrators and their concupiscence, their clambering, their head colds—on the level of language, there is constant movement, constant surprise. In this, her writing is funny but also dangerous: kinetic and happening, as if the world is about to unravel in our hands.” 
-- Danielle Dutton, The Brooklyn Rail
 

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