Honored Guest

Honored Guest

3.97 (1,087 ratings by Goodreads)
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Among the best American short stories of the past two decades (The Atlantic Monthly) from one of our most acclaimed writers.

In short stories so vibrant and alive they have heartbeats, the prose so electric and dazzling it makes the pulse race (Vanity Fair), a masseuse breaks her rich client's wrist bone, a friend visits at the hospital long after she is welcome, and a woman surrenders her husband to a creepily adoring student.

With her singular brand of gorgeous dark humor, Joy Williams explores the various ways--comic, tragic, and unnerving--we seek to accommodate diminishment and loss, offering a rich examination of our capacity for transformation and salvation.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 224 pages
  • 132 x 203 x 15mm | 238g
  • Random House Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 1400095522
  • 9781400095520
  • 313,633

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The first collection of stories in well over a decade by a writer Ann Beattie has called "one of our most remarkable storytellers," and whom Bret Easton Ellis has named "the rightful heir to the mastery, genius, and poetry of Flannery O'Connor."
These twelve stories further Joy Williams's utterly singular achievement, described by the "Washington Post as "poetic, disturbing, yet very funny . . . the brilliantly controlled style informed by a powerful spiritual vision," and again reveal her ability to uncover, as Michiko Kakutani wrote in the "New York Times, "the somber verities lurking beneath the flash and clamor of daily life."
Her landscapes reach from Maine and Nantucket to the Southwest and into Mexico and Guatemala, while the events cover a range of human travail, from children confronting the death of a parent to parents instead burying their own young, and the various ways-comic, tragic, unnerving-we seek to accommodate diminishment and loss. And all of her characters are richly, idiosyncratically alive, in circumstances at once supremely peculiar and strangely like our own.

"From the Hardcover edition.
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Review quote

Beautiful.... Unsettling.... [Contains] among the best American short stories of the past two decades. --The Atlantic Monthly

The short stories in Joy Williams's Honored Guest are so vibrant and alive they have heartbeats, the prose so electric and dazzling it makes the pulse race. --Vanity Fair

By all means read, and re-read, these subtle and touching and deceptively funny and sometimes darkly magical stories. --St. Louis Post-Dispatch

A brilliant spawn of Raymond Carver and Flannery O'Connor, Joy Williams blends mordant wit, uncanny characters, and weirdly familiar landscapes and locales.... By turns these narratives soothe, then surprise, then shock with jolts of recognition, recoil, and naked redemption. --Elle

Joy Williams wastes not a word in the stories that she tells.... Phenomenally interesting.... Miraculously and intelligently weird. --Chicago Tribune

In wonderful, stark relief, Williams gives us a glimpse into this pliability of the human heart, its marvelous ability to withstand adversity and accommodate whatever comes next. --Los Angeles Times Book Review

If Joy Williams's publisher made cigarettes rather than story collections it would be required to slap a consumer warning on her latest collection, Honored Guest.... [It's] narcotic-alluring precisely because it is toxic, dangerous. And Williams is so good she merely has to wave her characters' melancholia under our noses and we crave more. --The Philadelphia Inquirer

Darkly enticing and intuitive.... In Williams's hands, the inevitability of death is both poignant and, at times, comfortably humorous. --Rocky Mountain News

The unexpected is the only thing that can be counted on--other than the author's brilliant prose, acerbic humor and implicit biting commentary on the state of our world today. --Santa Fe New Mexican

Captur[es] the casual brutality of everyday life with a combination of grim humor, macabre incident and an ironic eye.... There's a thrilling appeal, a perverse pleasure, in reading Williams' cold take on things.... Fascinating. --The Oregonian

Each [story] spins with the searing comedy and blunt drama of the gallows.... Williams is a deeply compassionate writer, and in these luminous, feeling moments, the specter of another writer from another century and another country rises: Anton Chekhov, the book's honored ghost. --Time Out New York

Joy Williams's collection is an engrossing and perceptive work. --Richmond Times-Dispatch

[Williams] balances horror and humor with uncanny skill and laces her stories with compassion.... Her stories stick in the mind like burrs. --The Columbus Dispatch

[A] darkly humorous, potent collection. --Anniston Star

There is much artistry to be found in the short story.... Especially when it is in the hands of an artist like Joy Williams. --Tulsa World

Of the many qualities of her prose-clarity, economy, intelligence, complete mastery of the sentence-the most conspicuous is authority.... Joy Williams's stories are illuminating, burning, intelligent and large. --Books and Culture
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About Joy Williams

Joy Williams is the author of four novels-the most recent, The Quick and the Dead, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2001-and three other collections of stories, as well as Ill Nature, a book of essays that was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism. Among her many honors are the Rea Award for the short story and the Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in Key West, Florida, and Tucson, Arizona.
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Rating details

1,087 ratings
3.97 out of 5 stars
5 35% (382)
4 36% (387)
3 22% (235)
2 6% (65)
1 2% (18)
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