Joy Williams

99 Stories of God

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 “99 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 that is by turns comic and yearning and Kafkaesque. Kafka himself makes an appearance (talking to a fish), as do Tolstoy, the Aztecs, Abraham and Sarah, and O. J. Simpson. 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:
“Have you ever had chicken pox?” asked the pharmacist.“Of course,” the Lord said.“How did you hear about us?”
Herself the daughter of a minister, Joy Williams instinctively understands one sure truth about God: He always gets the last laugh.
Joy Williams is the author of such classics of American fiction as “State of Grace,” “Taking Care,” “Escapes,” and “Breaking and Entering.” Harold Brodkey called her “the most gifted writer of her generation,” and Raymond Carver declared her “simply a wonder.” She has also written several widely anthologized essays on ecological matters. Williams lives in Arizona, Wyoming, and Florida.
«I would follow the trail of Joy Williams's words—always beautiful, compelling, and so wise—anywhere they led.” —Chuck Palahniuk, author of the bestselling “Choke,” “Fight Club,” and the Byliner Original “Phoenix”
“These modern fables and skewed vignettes make the implausible plausible. Compression, as done by Joy Williams, extends the reach of her stories. This masterful writer's unified vision in 99 parts is a vital primer for today's tuned-in adults.” —Amy Hempel, author of “At the Gates of the Animal Kingdom”
«Joy Williams's '99 Stories of God' reads like a blog-era bible as conceived by Borges, Barthelme, and Mark Twain. But the tone and import are all Williams's own—a pitch-perfect, haunting/funny, insanely original and riveting assemblage of American koan and parable. No writer alive captures the voices in the post-millennial psychic wilderness like Joy Williams. Whether you write fiction or just love it, this is the book you have to read. “99 Stories of God” is a beautiful, moving, quietly hysterical masterpiece.” —Jerry Stahl, author of “Permanent Midnight”
“The word count of this slender, extraordinary collection belies the density and combustibility of its contents, their midnight hilarity and edgeless reach. Joy Williams is our feral philosopher. With alacrity and serenity, she dismantles the ordinary apparatus of a 'literary short story collection' and makes something entirely new: taut, ingeniously knotted tales that together form a braided lasso for truths that normally elude us.” —Karen Russell, Pulitzer Prize nominee for “Swamplandia!”
«Like Kafka’s Paradoxes and Parables, Joy Williams’s 99 Stories of God adapt and retell some familiar tales, but they also invent new narratives that provide succor to animals, explore our dark side and turn God into our familiar. These stories are as full of surprises as a Noah’s Ark filled with mystical beasts, three of each.” —Edmund White, author of “A Boy's Own Story” and “The Farewell Symphony”
67 printed pages
Original publication



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    Rena Hajiyevahas quoted6 years ago
    A woman who adored her mother, and had mourned her death every day for years now, came across some postcards in a store that sold antiques and various other bric-a-brac. The postcards were of unexceptional scenes, but she was drawn to them and purchased several of wild beaches and forest roads. When she got home, she experienced an overwhelming need to send a card to her mother.
    What she wrote was not important. It was the need that was important.
    She put the card in an envelope and sent it to her mother’s last earthly address, a modest farmhouse that had long since been sold and probably sold again.
    Within a week she received a letter, the writing on the envelope unmistakably her mother’s. Even the green ink her mother had favored was the same.
    The woman never opened the letter, nor did she send any other postcards to that address.
    The letter, in time, though only rumored to still exist, caused her children, though grown, much worry.
    Kerrihas quoted2 years ago
    Franz Kafka once called his writing a form of prayer.

    He also reprimanded the long-suffering Felice Bauer in a letter: “I did not say that writing ought to make everything clearer, but instead makes everything worse; what I said was that writing makes everything clearer and worse.”
    Kerrihas quoted2 years ago
    At some point, Kafka became a vegetarian.

    Afterwards, visiting an aquarium in Berlin, he spoke to the fish through the glass.

    “Now at last I can look at you in peace, I don’t eat you anymore.”

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