Alphabetophile

Michael Hofmann

  • Attrib. and Other Stories by Eley Williams
    Influx, 169 pp, £9.99, March, ISBN 978 1 910312 16 2
  • Frit by Eley Williams
    Sad, 35 pp, £6.00, April

Before I embarked on Eley Williams, of whom I had read nothing and knew nothing, I flipped through Attrib., her first book of stories. Even on first flip, I got a sense of something I sometimes find in things I like and that seem good to me, something that subliminally distinguishes writing that is careful and alive: a kind of alphabetical justice, to give this sheepish and probably disreputable thing a name in public. The letters in her words seemed to be drawn from adjacent parts of the alphabet. They had thought about themselves and one another. There was something collusive about them. They backed up one another’s story. They had demanded to be consulted, and come to their own unconventional arrangements. It all makes for alphabetophile writing. In the reader, it produces a kind of constructive estrangement from words. Think William Gass, Lydia Davis or Anne Carson, and you won’t be too wrong.

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