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The Visiting Privilege: New and Collected…

The Visiting Privilege: New and Collected Stories

by Joy Williams

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To read a Joy Williams story is to devote yourself to a study in contrasts, to be challenged, confronted, unsettled.

Surreal yet grounded, bleak yet funny, straightforward yet abtruse. Many, if not all, require immediate second readings, long mid-story pauses, as well as long hiatuses in between stories. I suspect that rereading her will be a pleasure that matures with age. ( )
  kitzyl | Mar 4, 2018 |
In this remarkable collection, Joy Williams breaks all the rules: abrupt time shifts, inconsistent points of view, unfinished vignettes, you name it. The stories are nearly all intimate familial scenes that are simultaneously busy and cacophonous: characters talking at cross purposes, little fits of imperfectly explained laughter, hopeless oddballs, insufferable children, parents awkwardly dying. Frequently set in Maine and Florida, the characters are adrift, loosed from one home and not yet found a place in another, abandoned by loved ones, carried along by outside forces and unable to find a foothold to root themselves. Somehow, across dozens of tales, Williams manages to draw sympathetic and distinct characters who are -- even when insufferable -- oddly appealing. ( )
  Bostonseanachie | Dec 14, 2016 |
In a weird distinction, I thought the stories in this collection were really well done, but didn't enjoy the experience of reading it. I think because it was a library book, and I felt a certain pressure to soldier through it, when I would have really liked to read one or two at a time and put the book down for a bit to absorb them. Each one was so dense and unsettling–as I think I said earlier (but will go ahead and say again because I amuse myself), it was kind of like eating a flourless chocolate, but more depressing.

Still, glad I read it, and thinking maybe I'll revisit some of the work another time. ( )
1 vote lisapeet | Nov 25, 2015 |
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The legendary writer's first collection in more than ten years-and, finally, the definitive one. A literary event of the highest order. Joy Williams has been celebrated as a master of the short story for four decades, her renown passing as a given from one generation to the next even in the shifting landscape of contemporary writing. And at long last the incredible scope of her singular achievement is put on display: thirty-three stories drawn from three earlier, much lauded collections, and another thirteen appearing here for the first time in book form. Forty-six stories in all, far and away the most comprehensive volume in her long career, showcasing her crisp, elegant prose, her dark wit, and her uncanny ability to illuminate our world through characters and situations that feel at once peculiar and foreign and disturbingly familiar. Virtually all American writers have their favorite Joy Williams stories, as do many readers of all ages, and each one of them is available here.… (more)

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