Vicky Swanky Is a Beauty


ISBN: 9781921924200 Format: hardback 128pp Rights: ANZ Release / Publication Date: 01 /07 /2012


‘Diane Williams is one of the true living heroes of the American avant-garde. Her fiction makes very familiar things very, very weird.’ Jonathan Franzen

‘Let’s hear it for the magnificent Diane Williams, one of the wittiest and most exacting writers of our time. Her fictions are fervid endorsements of terrible, joyous life. But that’s not quite right, because like all great literature, they are life. Well you figure it out. All I know is this book is an amazement, composed with a stricture that guarantees splendor.’ Sam Lipsyte

‘Williams’s book is populated with heartbreak, affairs, and death, and however mystifying passages can be, the author has a sly humour that cuts through everything else. Equal parts satisfying, mysterious, thoughtful, and quick.’
Publishers Weekly

Diane Williams is the author of six previous books, and the publisher and founding editor of the literary annual NOON. She has taught at Bard College, Syracuse University, and the Center for Fiction. She lives in New York City.

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.