If the idea of experimental or innovative short stories makes you squirm, even though you are simultaneously bored with more traditional structure, Not Anyone’s Anything belongs on your bookshelf.
I also wholly enjoyed his poetry collection You Know Who You Are, which opens, you might have guessed, with an epigraph from Alice Munro’s Who Do You Think You Are? and behaves, in some ways, more like a conversation than a collection of poems.
The stories in this collection reverberate within and throughout, seem to call-and-answer in an unusual and compelling manner.
Stylistically this is an exciting project as the author’s playfulness extends not only to trios of trios of stories, which reflect and refract, but to forms which shift and expand as the reader turns the pages.
Lines are drawn, for instance to afford the possibility of simul-reading two characters’ experiences on the same page (i.e. one person’s perspective on the left-hand side and the other’s on the right-hand side) or to align two experiences of the same narrative space (i.e. a horizontal line separating the characters’ experiences until they inhabit a shared space).
But these lines are inclusionary and engaging, rather than isolating and pretentious.
Musical staves or Korean language study-cards: you might not be able to predict the contents of an Ian Williams’ story, but loyal readers will know you can predict the degree of satisfaction which settles upon reading.
From “Anticipation” to “Bore”–
From “The Romantic Lead” to “Superhero Fantasies” —
From “Sixteen” to “Stranger” —
Ian Williams charts the landscape of attachment and detachment.
But before the reader discovers the contents of the collection, there is the striking wrapping to study. (I can’t stop staring: design by Natalie Olsen.) Including charming endpapers.
And Ian Williams is a designer too.
The shape of his poems is remarkable.
And sometimes the shapelessness, too: the way that lines wrap and turn, rather than simply end.
Sometimes a verse is all about what is said and what has been said and what is still being said.
As with “Echolalia”:
“Once one gets what one wants
one no longer wants it.
One no longer wants what?
One no longer wants what
And sometimes what it is not spoken speaks louder than words.
Ian Williams’ works simultaneously challenge and invite, and sometimes the silences resonate as loudly as the words.
Curious? His website is here.