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‘Oh, Darling I’m in the Garden’

Diane Williams, 16 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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

Diary

Terry Castle: Moving House, 27 August 2009

... had been great. For reasons I’ll explain in a moment, the new house is named Princess Diane; or The Princess for short. (Likely – I already see – to morph into La Principessa in Mapp and Lucia moods.) A classic double-decker San Francisco ‘Painted Lady’ – meaning a late 19th-century wooden domicile of cheesy touristic charm (and, some ...

Motherblame

Anna Vaux: Motherhood, 21 May 1998

Bad Mothers: The Politics of Blame in 20th-Century America 
edited by Molly Ladd-Taylor and Lauri Umansky.
New York, 416 pp., £16, April 1998, 0 8147 5119 9
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Madonna and Child: Towards a New Politics of Motherhood 
by Melissa Benn.
Cape, 288 pp., £12.99, January 1998, 0 224 03821 4
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... And who is being diverted, in any case? Here, after all, is a four-hundred-page book, welcomed by Diane Eyer, the author of Mother-guilt: How Our Culture Blames Mothers for What’s Wrong with Society, with essays from 26 contributors, many of whom have written elsewhere on the subject, and who run classes and clinics to help us with it. Still, there is ...

The Angry Men

Jean McNicol: Harriet Harman, 14 December 2017

A Woman’s Work 
by Harriet Harman.
Allen Lane, 405 pp., £20, February 2017, 978 0 241 27494 1
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The Women Who Shaped Politics 
by Sophy Ridge.
Coronet, 295 pp., £20, March 2017, 978 1 4736 3876 1
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... know-your-place remarks of the sort made by Michael Fallon to Andrea Leadsom, or by David Davis of Diane Abbott. In the 1979 general election, which brought the Conservatives to power under Margaret Thatcher – something Harman describes as an ‘excruciating blow’ – 19 women were elected, the lowest postwar figure aside from the 17 elected in ...

Baudelairean

Mary Hawthorne: The Luck of Walker Evans, 5 February 2004

Walker Evans 
by James Mellow.
Perseus, 654 pp., £15.99, February 2002, 1 903985 13 7
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... recognition gave him courage and confidence. The following year, rejected by Yale, he decided on Williams. Once there, he scarcely attended classes, preferring to spend his time in the library. After a year, he moved back to New York, eventually taking a job in the Map Room of the New York Public Library. He begged his father to send him to Paris, and a few ...

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