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Not Anyone's Anything

af Ian Williams

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Winner of the Danuta Gleed Literary Award Ian Williams's Not Anyone's Anything is a trio of trios: three sets of three stories, with three of those stories further divided into thirds. Mathematical, musical, and meticulously crafted, these stories play profoundly with form, and feature embedded flash cards and musical notations, literal basements, and dual narratives, semi-detached. Roaming through Toronto and its surrounding suburbia, Williams's characters wittily and wryly draw attention to the angst and anxieties associated with being somewhere between adolescence and more-than-that. They are disastrously ambitious, performing amateur surgery or perfecting Chopin; they are restless and bored, breaking into units of new subdivisions hoping for a score; they continually test the ones they love, and, though every time feels like the last time, they might be up for one more game.… (mere)
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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.

Ian Williams puts relationships at the core of his work and this collection exhibits this tendency as well. I 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.

Similarly, 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.
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  buriedinprint | Jul 10, 2015 |
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Winner of the Danuta Gleed Literary Award Ian Williams's Not Anyone's Anything is a trio of trios: three sets of three stories, with three of those stories further divided into thirds. Mathematical, musical, and meticulously crafted, these stories play profoundly with form, and feature embedded flash cards and musical notations, literal basements, and dual narratives, semi-detached. Roaming through Toronto and its surrounding suburbia, Williams's characters wittily and wryly draw attention to the angst and anxieties associated with being somewhere between adolescence and more-than-that. They are disastrously ambitious, performing amateur surgery or perfecting Chopin; they are restless and bored, breaking into units of new subdivisions hoping for a score; they continually test the ones they love, and, though every time feels like the last time, they might be up for one more game.

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