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‘Oh, Darling I’m in the Garden’

Diane Williams, 17 August 2017

... Tell them all to leave. I won’t look!’ her husband had said. He’d just returned from a visit to town when he said, ‘Tell your boyfriends to leave!’ ‘Oh, darling,’ his wife said, ‘I’m in the garden,’ and she went back outside to stand a moment near the flowering vine – the trained pillar form by the doorway. Not today – none of the boyfriends were with her today and she felt poorly on account of it ...

How Much Did You Ever Think the World of Me?

Diane Williams, 2 January 2020

... He’d never quite seen anyone in that state before, even though he has a mother and all that.Today Lizzie is, he thinks, irresistibly plaintive.Then the doorbell jerked the husband to his feet.Does Lizzie live here?Who are you?Where did she go? Where did Lizzie go?Who wants to know?Lizzie meant to answer hurriedly and hotly, but nevertheless stayed hidden ...

Have a Seat in the Big Black Chair

Diane Williams, 4 June 2020

... I had had enough of everything during what I took to be my turn.‘Can I just pet it,’ I said, when Tim and I were in bed, ‘instead of my taking it inside?’ But Tim said no.And then, at the task, he pulled himself back and forth inside of me with many repetitions, enough to get to the next step for him – to stabilise the project. He was cramming rather a lot into the tiny space ...

Harriet Mounce

Diane Williams, 4 February 2021

... I was able to get Harriet Mounce to shriek and I think I must have thought any shriek would do.When she first stood there naked, I remember she was solemn or she looked annoyed or was she really pained? But she did seem to like me. The cues – she had really focused her eyes on me and she had smiled while on her haunches by the hearth a bit earlier ...

Gladly!

Diane Williams, 1 April 2021

... He is a figure I once engaged with for years, amid scenes with nearly religious significance attached to them.And by chance, this Saturday, I had witnessed him stepping away from a park path and stooping beneath the leaf cover – only to put his hand against the tree trunk.He smiled when he saw me, but when I reached him he was speechless and sour, and then he proceeded on his way headlong ...

Lamb Chops, Cod

Diane Williams: ‘Lamb Chops, Cod’, 19 November 2015

... She​ had stopped insisting that they have heart-to-heart conversations, but for stranded people, they had these nice moments together, and he had his professional enjoyment at the newspaper. He approved the issues there with a scientific mind and he made quite a contribution. He was a consultant in the field of efficiency. She should have appreciated that, I guess ...

Molly Went Along Quickly

Diane Williams: A Story, 10 October 2019

... Eventually the mother died. My wife, was, in spite of everything, very fond of her mother, and had saved a dog abandoned at Vaughn’s – because, she said, the dog reminded her of her mother.      Then why be so careless? Because Molly went up a walkway of stairs with the dog who wasn’t on a leash, and using by-paths – she went far into a part of the park where there were high thickets and the dog disappeared ...

Tassel Rue

Diane Williams, 17 December 2020

... The bird’s voice was such a thick voice – it could never have been carried away by the high wind. It was a passionate voice that might have answered the question, ‘What am I living for?’ – had there only been words to accompany it.And I did get to see the bird out on a limb, opening and closing its mouth, its breast pulsing.Ruby had said, There is the bird that is singing!Perhaps we had gotten this far flung once before, where we found the beautiful tassel rue that has such an ugly common name – false bugbane – together with large and sharp, saw-toothed leaves ...

Stick

Diane Williams, 5 November 2020

... How best to touch these woody objects or a person?     She batted together the parts of the sycamore stick she had broken in two and then made of them the self-important capital letter T – and she spun one.     She rolled the stick over her thumb and then she tried for greater twirling speed, as she sat on the park bench that bore a personalised inscribed plaque dedicated to MY DEAREST NANCY ...

Two Stories

Diane Williams, 13 September 2018

... With this New Greasiness One of them breaks the routine at the office usually – mouths off or is sullen, every once in a while. The man said, ‘You know why I’m here, Jane.’ Jane grabbed at the man where some soft flesh is, with some force, perhaps because so many persons were no longer in her life – not Titus or Roddy, Mamie or Cecelia Bouché – whom she had checked in with and needed to double-check in with often, to help her to settle down ...

Two Stories

Diane Williams, 23 May 2013

... Perform Small Tasks ‘One second!’ I said – for everything can go cold in a day or hot. For a man like me, there’s an on and off bulb that does the deciding. I had to find a red, little glowing button – that I was able to find – that was on a timer switch, to get more light on. The furniture – like worn-out stumps sticking up – had turned into shadows ...

Molasses Nog

Ange Mlinko: Diane Williams, 18 April 2019

The Collected Stories 
by Diane Williams.
Soho, 764 pp., £20, October 2018, 978 1 61695 982 1
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... Rushing​ out of the house for an appointment, I grabbed what I thought was Diane Williams’s Collected Stories. When I retrieved the book from my bag, I was surprised to find it was actually the latest volume of Sylvia Plath’s letters: they’re both large hardbacks whose pale jackets are touched with baby blue ...

Sexy Robots

Ian Patterson: ‘Machines Like Me’, 9 May 2019

Machines like Me 
by Ian McEwan.
Cape, 305 pp., £18.99, April 2019, 978 1 78733 166 2
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... There’s​ a very short story by Diane Williams which came into my mind while I was reading Machines like Me, Ian McEwan’s 15th novel. It’s called ‘Machinery’ and it’s 104 words long. It ends: ‘For some idea of the full range of tools at his disposal, one would have to know what human longings are all about, a calm voice says calmly ...

Just a Diphthong Away

Ange Mlinko: Gary Lutz, 7 May 2020

The Complete Gary Lutz 
by Gary Lutz.
Tyrant, 500 pp., £15, December 2019, 978 1 7335359 1 5
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... who came of age in the late 1970s and 1980s, including Raymond Carver, Amy Hempel, Barry Hannah, Diane Williams and Mary Robison.One of the best accounts of Lish’s influence is in David Leavitt’s roman à clef Martin Bauman; Or, a Sure Thing. He appears in the first paragraph of the first chapter disguised as Stanley Flint, a creative writing ...

A Kind of Slither

Michael Wood: Woody Allen, 27 April 2000

The Unruly Life of Woody Allen 
by Marion Meade.
Weidenfeld, 384 pp., £20, February 2000, 0 297 81868 6
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... an argument about the handwriting of his stick-up note. In Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993) the Diane Keaton character has a wild idea and is advised to save some of her craziness for the menopause. The style of joke Allen borrows so often from S.J. Perelman works in much the same way. A man disguised as a cat burglar is arrested by a couple of dogs dressed ...

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