Fiction Collective Two is an author-run, not-for-profit publisher of artistically adventurous, non-traditional fiction.

It Was Like My Trying to Have a Tender-Hearted Nature


It Was Like My
Trying to Have
a Tender-Hearted Nature

by Diane Williams

E Book
2007
Price: $14.36

Quality Paper
2007
Price: $17.95

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"The extremity that Williams depicts and the extremity of the depiction evoke something akin to the pity and fear that the great writers of antiquity considered central to literature. Her stories, by removing you from ordinary literary experience, place you more deeply in ordinary life. 'Isn't ordinary life strange?' they ask, and in so asking, they revivify and console." —The LA Times


"Harnesses Williams's essentially comic sensibility to highly sophisticated, highly satisfying ends ... [Her] irony never feels forced or distancing; instead, it allows her to get into some very messy facets of human desire as it gets rammed though American life." —Publishers Weekly


"A pioneer of the genre [short shorts], Diane Williams excels at chiseling narratives out of a few sentences....She is today's premier exponent of the outburst as a literary mode."—Time Out New York


"Williams at her affectionate, disconsolate, indecorous, meta-fictional best." —Front Porch


"... this strange, beguiling slip of a thing from Diane Williams: 'It Was Like My Trying to Have a Tender-Hearted Nature,' short stories and a novella in which Enrique Woytus, a fur sales manager, falls in love with his neighbor's wife, a predicament rife with heartbreak, absurdity and the peculiar combustion that follows when you mix lust and etiquette, with particular attention to the effects on language." —Newsday Picks of 2007


"You have to slow down to read every word of the forty-one stories and one novella in this collection. Each line manages to be powerfully disorienting and erotically charged, spare and ornate, logical and absurd all at the same time." —The Story Prize


"Reading Diane Williams' warped micro-fictions is like peering through your next-door neighbor's window via a high-powered satellite from outer space: the information that comes back is both skewed and impossible to ignore." —Boldtype


"With the uproarious rudeness of a great mind, Diane Williams writes surprise after surprise, radically reinvented, indecorous and daring and downright funny stories." —Christine Schutt


"Diane Williams's singular, unsettling genius has never been as memorably and heartrendingly evident as in this virtuosic new collection of richly gnomic fictions that are, as always, sublimely vital in every line." —Gary Lutz, author of Stories in the Worst Way and I Looked Alive


"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


"These outrageous and ferociously strange stories test the limits of behavior, of manners, of language, and mark Diane Williams as a startlingly original writer worthy of our closest attention."—Ben Marcus


"In It Was Like My Trying To Have A Tender-Hearted Nature, Diane Williams's short, precise, and emphatic sentences build a strange society whose denizens are not quite familiar to us and not quite comfortable with their own quietly disturbing evolutions. Not a single moment of the prose, here, is what you would expect, and even the ordinary is, in the context created by Diane Williams, no longer ordinary: it is fresh, happy, and peculiar—or is it we who are refreshed, happy, and more peculiar than before after reading her?" —Lydia Davis

 


"An operation worthy of a master spy, a double agent in the house of fiction." —The New York Times


"[In] Williams's latest, she builds on her reputation as the foremost advocate of 'flash fiction.'"—Kirkus Reviews


"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


Excerpt


OTHER RASH

Peter pets her. He says, "I said I've been experiencing a little rash on my wrists and just under my eyebrows from exposure to epoxy resins which I have been working in to complete the sanitary project. I have to get some medicine to treat it."


She says, "Good luck."


You hear the snap—it really pulls the two halves together!


There were dark red dots—they were small—and Peter said they were a nuisance all over the place on the second floor verandah. The tree had three or four branches. They were growing and he was thinking he should get rid of them. So, he showed her this—this which —he picked up one of them—well what do they look like? They look like little, little, li—very small olives, so he dug his nail into it and he peeled off a little of the meat, little more than a skin, that's it, and the pit is big, is big, and the color is—he is tasting the meat and it was dry and sweet and a little bit leathery—an intense flavor of cherry—so Peter said they shouldn't cut the tree. It's a very nice tree. He said they were very lucky to have this very nice tree. He had no intention of using the fruit. This is a black cherry tree, so now, so what else do you want to know about Peter's cherry tree? It grew out of a cluster.


I bet you that tree was about sixty or eighty years old. The problem is it shades his whole backyard, but then after he tasted the cherries and they were good, maybe he reconsidered. His house doesn't have a cellar and the first floor is really—the tree branches are all around you, really quite beautiful, if you need this vapor.