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Ninety-Nine Stories of God
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Tin House Books 2016
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Description

A New York Times Notable Book and a Best Book of the Year at Esquire, Seattle Times, Minnesota Star Tribune, Huffington Post, and Publishers Weekly.



From "quite possibly America's best living writer of short stories" (NPR), Ninety-Nine Stories of God finds Joy Williams reeling between the sublime and the surreal, knocking down the barriers between the workaday and the divine.


Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist Joy Williams has a one-of-a-kind gift for capturing both the absurdity and the darkness of everyday life. In Ninety-Nine Stories of God, she takes on one of mankind's most confounding preoccupations: the Supreme Being.



This series of short, fictional vignettes explores our day-to-day interactions with an ever-elusive and arbitrary God. It's the Book of Common Prayer as seen through a looking glass—a powerfully vivid collection of seemingly random life moments. The figures that haunt these stories range from Kafka (talking to a fish) to the Aztecs, Tolstoy to Abraham and Sarah, O. J. Simpson to a pack of wolves. Most of Williams's characters, however, are like the rest of us: anonymous strivers and bumblers who brush up against God in the least expected places or go searching for Him when He's standing right there. The Lord shows up at a hot-dog-eating contest, a demolition derby, a formal gala, and a drugstore, where he's in line to get a shingles vaccination. At turns comic and yearning, lyric and aphoristic, Ninety-Nine Stories of God serves as a pure distillation of one of our great artists.
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
07/12/2016
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781941040362
ASIN:
B0184I6ABW
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Joy Williams. (2016). Ninety-Nine Stories of God. Tin House Books.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Joy Williams. 2016. Ninety-Nine Stories of God. Tin House Books.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Joy Williams, Ninety-Nine Stories of God. Tin House Books, 2016.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Joy Williams. Ninety-Nine Stories of God. Tin House Books, 2016. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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      • bioText: Joy Williams is the author of four novels, four previous story collections, and the book of essays Ill Nature. She's been nominated for the National Book Award, The Pulitzer Prize, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her most recent title is The Visiting Privilege: New & Collected Stories. She lives in Tucson, Arizona, and Laramie, Wyoming.
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A New York Times Notable Book and a Best Book of the Year at Esquire, Seattle Times, Minnesota Star Tribune, Huffington Post, and Publishers Weekly.

From "quite possibly America's best living writer of short stories" (NPR), Ninety-Nine Stories of God finds Joy Williams reeling between the sublime and the surreal, knocking down the barriers between the workaday and the divine.

Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist Joy Williams has a one-of-a-kind gift for capturing both the absurdity and the darkness of everyday life. In Ninety-Nine Stories of God, she takes on one of mankind's most confounding preoccupations: the Supreme Being.

This series of short, fictional vignettes explores our day-to-day interactions with an ever-elusive and arbitrary God. It's the Book of Common Prayer as seen through a looking glass—a powerfully vivid collection of seemingly random life moments. The figures that haunt these...
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title
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fullDescription

A New York Times Notable Book and a Best Book of the Year at Esquire, Seattle Times, Minnesota Star Tribune, Huffington Post, and Publishers Weekly.

From "quite possibly America's best living writer of short stories" (NPR), Ninety-Nine Stories of God finds Joy Williams reeling between the sublime and the surreal, knocking down the barriers between the workaday and the divine.

Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist Joy Williams has a one-of-a-kind gift for capturing both the absurdity and the darkness of everyday life. In Ninety-Nine Stories of God, she takes on one of mankind's most confounding preoccupations: the Supreme Being.

This series of short, fictional vignettes explores our day-to-day interactions with an ever-elusive and arbitrary God. It's the Book of Common Prayer as seen through a looking glass—a powerfully vivid collection of seemingly random life moments. The figures that haunt these stories range from Kafka (talking to a fish) to the Aztecs, Tolstoy to Abraham and Sarah, O. J. Simpson to a pack of wolves. Most of Williams's characters, however, are like the rest of us: anonymous strivers and bumblers who brush up against God in the least expected places or go searching for Him when He's standing right there. The Lord shows up at a hot-dog-eating contest, a demolition derby, a formal gala, and a drugstore, where he's in line to get a shingles vaccination. At turns comic and yearning, lyric and aphoristic, Ninety-Nine Stories of God serves as a pure distillation of one of our great artists.
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reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: New York Magazine
      • content: Williams addicts will mainline [Ninety-Nine Stories of God]; newcomers should chase the high with last year's The Visiting Privilege.
      • premium: False
      • source: The Minnesota Star Tribune, Best Fiction of the Year
      • content: Baffling and illuminating, witty and disturbing, these 99 religious-flavored vignettes may not tell you why we are here or where we are going, but they do possess the power to entrance. The divine Joy Williams continues to work in mysterious ways.
      • premium: False
      • source: The New York Times Book Review
      • content: Wry and playful, except for when densely allusive and willfully obtuse, Ninety-Nine Stories of God is a treasure trove of bafflements and tiny masterpieces.
      • premium: False
      • source: Darcey Steinke, author of SISTER GOLDEN HAIR
      • content: Each story, like living tissue, is a reliquary that makes something splendid of our most secret agonies and desires.
      • premium: False
      • source: Eugene Weekly
      • content: Each story in this collection shoots like a flare over the abyss of our existential dilemma, flashing the briefest light on the depths below and above.
      • premium: False
      • source: Chuck Palahniuk, author of CHOKE and FIGHT CLUB
      • content: I would follow the trail of Joy Williams's words—always beautiful, compelling, and so wise—anywhere they led.
      • premium: False
      • source: Edmund White, author of A BOY'S OWN STORY
      • content: These stories are as full of surprises as a Noah's Ark filled with mystical beasts, three of each.
      • premium: False
      • source: Lenny Letter
      • content: Each story is beautifully strange and meditative in an unexpected but glorious way. . . . Inarguably inspired, Ninety-Nine Stories of God is a devotional for modern cynics and believers alike.
      • premium: False
      • source: Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
      • content: [T]hese stories are 100% Williams: funny, unsettling, and mysterious, to be puzzled over and enjoyed across multiple readings.
      • premium: False
      • source: The Seattle Times
      • content: Sly and wonderful. . . . [Williams is] after some big truths in a few words, stories so short that some of them could fit on Twitter, except they're too smart and not mean enough.
      • premium: False
      • source: Amy Hempel, author of AT THE GATES OF THE ANIMAL KINGDOM
      • content: These modern fables and skewed vignettes make the implausible plausible. Compression, as done by Joy Williams, extends the reach of her stories.
      • premium: False
      • source: San Francisco Chronicle
      • content: Not many writers can launch a premise like "The Lord was in line at the pharmacy counter waiting to get His shingles shot" without falling into gimmickry, but Williams—long known as a master story writer—twists the scenario to an eerily moving effect. In manipulating our most deeply rooted expectations, shooting them through a prism of irony and wonder, she has created a cockeyed book of common prayer.
      • premium: False
      • source: The New York Times
      • content: Masterly . . . Ms. Williams is her usual funny, irreverent self.
      • premium: False
      • source: James Wood;The New Yorker
      • content: [The stories in Ninety-Nine Stories of God] miniaturize the qualities found in Joy Williams's celebrated short stories: concision, jumped connections, singular details, brutal humor. I say "celebrated" because Williams has been writing stories for forty years, and for forty years her literary peers—from Ann Beattie to Raymond Carver, from James Salter to Don DeLillo—have regarded her work with a kind of Masonic fellow-feeling. Yet she remains, in some ways, a difficult, and certainly an original, writer. She writes at a slight angle to the culture, literary and otherwise. Her fiction is easy to follow and hard to fathom; easy to enjoy and harder to absorb.
      • premium: False
      • source: Electric Literature, Best Short Story Collections of 2016
      • content: Every Joy Williams publication is a cause for celebration, and Ninety-Nine Stories of God shows Williams in her usual biting, insightful, and darkly humorous form.
      • premium: False
      • source: The Millions
      • content: Ninety-Nine Stories of God is gorgeously written, sentence-to-sentence, and arrives in vignettes that are condensed but not constrained, tight but not dry.
      • premium: False
      • source: Huffington Post, Best Fiction of 2016
      • content: Read together, Joy Williams' stories are a humanist manifesto, a celebration of our most...
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from February 8, 2016
        In Williams’s hands (The Visiting Privilege), a “story of God” can apparently be almost anything. Her slender new collection includes in its 99 stories pithy flash-fiction pieces about mothers, wives, writers, and dogs, anecdotes from the lives of Tolstoy and Kafka, newspaper clipping–like meditations on O.J. Simpson and Ted Kaczynski, conversational asides (the story “Museum” consists entirely of the line “We were not interested the way we thought we would be interested”), and, finally, actual stories about God—a particularly put-upon, bewildered God who seems to have lost the thread of his creation somewhere along the line. Here, the Holy Ghost is just as likely to alight in a slaughterhouse as to visit a demolition derby or appear to William James or Simone Weil, both of whom have their own brush with transcendence. The best of Williams’s humor, and her wonderful feel for characters, is present in pieces such as “Elephants Never Forget God,” in which James Agee describes a movie he’d like to make, or “Giraffe,” in which an aging gardener suddenly feels the presence of the divine. Somewhere in the neighborhood of Jim Harrison’s Letters to Yesenin, these stories are 100% Williams: funny, unsettling, and mysterious, to be puzzled over and enjoyed across multiple readings.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        Starred review from May 1, 2016
        "Hell is unpleasant. Heaven is more pleasant." Williams, maker of superb short fictions, plumbs the distinction in this slender, evocative collection. Absent a direct statement otherwise, we should understand the deity here to be something along the lines of what old John Lennon said: "God is a concept by which we measure our pain." The God that lurks in Williams' brief, elegant stories is very often puzzled by creation, as when he tries to understand why humans should so have it in for wolves: "You really are so intelligent," he tells one pack, "and have such glorious eyes. Why do you think you're hounded so?" Ever gracious, the wolves thank God for including them in his plan, leaving him to ponder--well, never mind, since we don't want to step on the punch line. Suffice it to say that sometimes God shows up on time, sometimes not, sometimes not at all; sometimes he extends grace, and sometimes, as with a colony of bats he's been living with in a cave, he "had done nothing to save them." This isn't theology in the Joel Osteen vein, but it is deep and thought-through theology all the same, and even when God doesn't figure in the narrative by name, the divine presence is immanent. And sometimes, of course, God is there without announcing himself, taking the form of, say, that homeless fellow who mutteringly assures us, "You don't get older during the time spent in church." Seldom occupying more than a couple of pages, Williams' stories are headed by a number, one to 99, but carry an "undertitle" at the end that glosses the tale in question, sometimes quite offhandedly: in the case of that heaven and hell distinction, for example, it's "PRETTY MUCH THE SAME, THEN," while an argument about the impossibility of really knowing God is slugged, rather more mysteriously, "NAKED MIND." Admirers of Williams--and anyone who treasures a story well told should be one--will find much to like here.

        COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        September 1, 2016

        As Pulitzer finalist Williams observes, "Franz Kafka once called his writing a form of prayer," and these stories are indeed prayer-like in their sculpted simplicity--and proverb-like in their investigation of the world's mysterious ways. A humanist goes mad countering the idea of intelligent life elsewhere, a brilliant painter continues her work after a debilitating accident, a child and a lion discuss near-death experience, and a man denies his long sober mother a martini on her deathbed as "she'd regret it." From a reading of Dante's Inferno on Good Friday to Philip K. Dick's asking about a girl's golden fish necklace, belief figures as both backdrop and content here. But the Lord's intervention in our lives can be uneven. VERDICT Perfect little gems; it's rare when such short works (many the length of this review) can truly satisfy.

        Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from April 1, 2016
        Fans of Williams will not be disappointed in this latest offering. The stories, rather than devotional, or a sweet reminiscence of divine intervention, are a series of vignettes that throw into sharp relief the rippling something in the back of humanity's daily lives. When God appears by name, he is a character, bemused and sometimes befuddled by the creatures he has created, curious and sometimes surprised by the features humanity has bestowed on him. The Lord appears intermittently, trying out new material. It's as if Williams took the song What If God Was One of Us? and gave it flesh, pondering God's visit with wolves or adoption of a turtle. Though God does not appear by name in every story, something of the divine echoes in each, something larger than the humans that populate each chapter. Each story is brief, with some less than a paragraph. Some amaze, some are quietly powerful, some gracefully absurd. Much like the divine, Williams' prose is simple and brutal, thoughtful and haunting. A spare but startling book.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2016, American Library Association.)

popularity
210
publisher
Tin House Books
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