Ninety-Nine Stories of God

Ninety Nine Stories of God 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

  • Title: Ninety-Nine Stories of God
  • Author: Joy Williams
  • ISBN: 9781941040355
  • Page: 202
  • Format: Hardcover
  • 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 arbitPulitzer 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.

    One thought on “Ninety-Nine Stories of God”

    1. Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey--Redux[updated 10/21/17] *3.6 starsThe 99 sketches in this book reminded me of the old Saturday Night Live "Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey," two perfect examples being, If you get invited to your first orgy, don't just show up nude. That's a common mistake. You have to let nudity 'happen.'If you ever discover that what you're seeing is a play within a play, just slow down, take a deep breath and hold on for the ride of your life. Most though are a little longer (none m [...]

    2. I thought that Joy Williams collection of short stories, 99 Stories of God might be a sort of collection of fictional devotions. And I suppose they might be, if one expanded the definition of "devotion" beyond recognition! The stories are very short, somewhat like those of Lydia Davis; most of them are one or two pages and but many are even shorter-a paragraph or a few lines. But how wonderful they are! God figures in them but often obliquely. Sometimes He seems to be irrelevant to the lives of [...]

    3. I have intended to read Joy Williams for some time and now, thanks to Tin House Books and NetGalley I've had a great introduction. These are most definitely not traditional stories of God's intercession with man as read in religious works. These are everyday experiences that reveal the human and seem to border on something other. At times, The Lord shows up personally to check in on humans, but not in a majestic way, more in a personal, often perplexed way given how humankind seems to be dealing [...]

    4. If you or I wrote these stories and submitted them to a publisher, they'd be rejected. Bizarre and nonsensical, even the brevity of the pieces doesn't save them from tediousness. They may provide your eyes with some exercise . . eyeball-rolling at the author's pretentious "cleverness." Obviously not my cup of tea.

    5. I didn't find these minute stories to be intriguing or funny, just rather odd and tiresome. They read as random thoughts that made the author feel clever. Each one is like a movie that ends in exactly the wrong spot and makes you regret watching it in the first place. Obviously well appreciated by others, but quite unappealing to me.

    6. Gosh, I can't remember the last time I gave a book one star. I found the stories weird and puzzling. Many of these short fictional stories I felt had no connection to God. Thanks to Tin House Books for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

    7. [UPDATED REVIEW: 23 JULY '16] Many reviewers here on GR have mentioned that the "stories" in this book might better be called zen koans. I checked my copy of Alan Watts'The Way of Zento see if this description is apt. (It is.) Watts says the koan is a type of puzzle, the answer to which must be intuitively and spontaneously grasped. Some examples:Question : Everybody has a place of birth. Where is your place of birth? Answer : Early this morning I ate white rice gruel. Now I’m hungry again. Qu [...]

    8. I guess "46 Thoughts Joy Williams Had Before Bed, 35 Items of Color Commentary by Your Aunt on Science Stories, OJ Simpson, and Other Assorted News Items, and 18 Short Stories" didn't fit as well on the cover page. Each of the titular 99 pieces in this book is at most a couple pages long, and most are far shorter than that. For all of her plaudits, I found this slender volume by Williams to be frustratingly padded out. Several of the so-called stories are little more than a sentence that she pre [...]

    9. I would say it is difficult to form an opinion on an author just from super short fiction, and this book of 99 stories is a collection of flash pieces - some are as small as a sentence fragment, while others are a page or two. Some of them have characters facing their mortality (where God surely is) and others have God wandering through the randomness of life trying to make sense of it all. There were several clever laughable moments but really I need to read her longer short stories before I ha [...]

    10. I really enjoyed this book! It's a bunch of vignettes, some irreverent, some poetic, others peculiar. Still, they make a cohesive whole. It's an easy ready, and it's something different. I highly recommend this book.

    11. Great concept, huge imagination and variety! ButMost of these stories just weren't strong, funny, crazy, interesting enough.* 32 stories were absurd in a silly way:F.e.: The Lord wants to give a dinner party but can never come up with twelve guests. Whatever steward He has at the time suggests many names, but the Lord can’t get excited about any of them. At least the menu was determined long ago. There would be a mixture of fifty pure chemicals—sugar, amino and fatty acids, vitamins and mine [...]

    12. 95 The American philosopher William James posited that overbelief was essential to a lived life, and that only when we open ourselves to God’s influence are our deepest destinies fulfilled. God provided William with many things, including (according to his sister Alice) the ability to be “born fresh every morning.” He also gave him a brother, Henry, who He determined would be “younger and shallower and vainer.” William quite agreed with this assessment.96 When a woman sits down to a [...]

    13. It seems wrong to give Williams 3 stars because she is a great writer and I loved 'The Visiting Privilege', a truly wonderful book, but this, while at times intriguing, funny and wise, contains scraps from the table really. Not enough nutrition.

    14. There's nothing I want to say about this small, intricate, deceptively simple book that hasn't already been said by Justin Taylor in his excellent NYT review, so allow me just to give you the link nytimes/2016/08/07/boEnjoy. Ponder. Reflect. Laugh. Despair. Wonder. It's all there.

    15. After reading Joy Williams story in the Sept 14, 2014 issue of the New Yorker while traveling to Mexico, I remembered I had this book on my Kindle. Coincidentally, I was listening to "God and Mr. Gomez" and I'd just finished Thomas Moore's "A Religion of One's Own." God was coming at me in my reading and as it turned out God was everywhere during this trip. Williams 99 mostly very short pieces definitely alerted me to God's presence for she offered "the Lord" in a myriad of connotations, incarna [...]

    16. I was excited to read this collection, but the hype was unfounded. I haven't read such nonsensical dribble in a very long time. I suspect that I was supposed to be deeply moved by the author's artistic take on who God might be, but it just didn't happen for me. The stories (some mere sentences, really) left me confused and longing to return to the real world.

    17. Such a fantastic piece of work from Joy Williams, who is incomparable in every way. Impossible not to read in one sitting. What an examination. What a brilliant mind.

    18. If your spiritual life leans into intellectualism, if it's energized by parsing the difference between seeing people's motivations as particular instead of peculiar, this book is for you. Ms. Williams spends these ninety-nine stories wrestling with her conscience's observations of the world and how they form and reform her idea of faith. She comes to no conclusions, but multiple readings of each of these psalm-like parables reveal many ideas about humanity. She posits that the spirit is nothing [...]

    19. This book is I would use as an example of how not to write good flash fiction. Most of the stories involved upper class situations and values, things that publishers love to publish, things that make my eyes roll so far back, I can see my eyebrows. I'm sorry that I read this book and would warn others to not make the same mistake I made.

    20. A brilliant collection of micro fiction. It's a book I know I'll come back to again and again. I'm fascinated by how much she can accomplish in a story consisting of only a handful of sentences.

    21. Hypnotic, intelligent, lovely book of (loosely) linked flash fiction - Williams is such a great writer and many of the vignettes stand out as masterpieces of the short short form (I particularly like 25: "Veracity"). I'll be recommending this book for a long time. I did have slightly less affection for some of the stories in which God APPEARS instead of simply exists in the background - those lean a bit too hard on their punchlines and speak to befuddlement instead of the calm slant observation [...]

    22. I kind of want to give a 4th star here for alluring prose.I did like this book. I think a lot of people would, more than might think of reading it, but maybe I overestimate the capacity for many to enjoy well-written, disjointed vignettes.There certainly were pages where I could not discern the divinity the author meant to convey, but then again, there were passages that made me ponder, at least in passing, or nod with appreciative understanding, or laugh with wry yet gentle humor.I did like thi [...]

    23. 99 nightmares, some so short they're over in a sentence so you don't have to dream them. God is mocked along with everyone else including animals and philosophers. Williams toys with our ravenous love of story, tossing out one poisoned tidbit after another. Some fall flat, some strive too hard, some are laugh-out-loud brilliant. The cover image by Michael Sowa is a perfect pairing and the designer (Diane Chonette) deserves a prize.FUNNY BUT MEAN

    24. I received my copy as part of my Powell's book subscription and was pleasantly surprised by this bizarre little book (with one of the best covers ever). Filled with quick glimpses into people's lives, this collection reminded me of Alice Munro, but briefer. I expect this book will have a varied effect on readers due to it's complex absurdities, but it's one to check out.

    25. Loved this bookovocative, humorous and intelligent. Also, loved the decisions Tin House made in producing the 2016 edition of the bookze, feel, font, and inside covers all artfully and thoughtfully done. The design complemented the text, and helps the reader approach the good words with appropriate reverence. I am not anti-e-reader by any means, but I do beseech you to experience this book in its printed, physical manifestation (so Jesus form, as opposed to Sophia/G*d).

    26. Just a delightfully absurd little book. Not every story works, but the ones that do work so very well, you forget the others.

    27. A wonderful book that reads like a combination of Jim Harrison's Letters to Yesenin and Richard Brautigan.

    28. Finished this in two sittings and it'll stay with me for years. Ms Williams' (very) short stories are fantastic.

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