Often less than a page long, Diane Williams’ stories resemble overheard anecdotes with vital parts gouged out. They’re anything but straightforward, full of cryptic gestures and sphinx-like dialogue. Such brevity edges Vicky Swanky Is a Beauty closer to a collection of poetry than to standard fiction. Williams deliberately positions her pieces to be awkward and off-balance, down to the last detail. While her eccentric style will prove a hindrance to many readers, it also frees her hands. She collapses years of abandonment into a handful of strokes in the stand-out piece, ‘Chicken Winchell’, and many other stories explode and recast reality in this way. Williams also proves handy with dry, incidental comedy and never takes her eagle eye off the human experience. She renders the mundane profound. For all her hairpin turns and sometimes mocking tone, these pieces are oddly moving once readers attune themselves to Williams’ peculiar wavelength. Not a book to be rushed through, this should be pored over and re read up close, scanned for meaning in the vast spaces between words.
Doug Wallen, The Big Issue, 17-30 July 2012.