Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine (CB Editions [UK], 2016 / McSweeney’s Books [US], 2016) is the newest collection of short fiction from Diane Williams, the founder and editor of the literary annual NOON. Described by Lydia Davis as ‘one of the very few contemporary prose writers who seem to be doing something independent, energetic, heartfelt’, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine is a collection of challenging, but not impenetrable, flash fictions that examines their subjects with absolute precision.
‘The Skol’, possibly the shortest story in the collection, is about Mrs Clavey who is walking out to sea. It is the perfect example of a flash in which every single word is required, and each word contributes to the greater story being told, for example: ‘She didn’t intend to drink, but she did drink—more.’ This creates the impression that Williams’ language is stripped back, however, the almost minimalist style means that Williams creates imagery that is both concise and evocative without being superfluous. The fact Mrs Clavey didn’t intend to drink more, but continues to do so, reveals much to the reader about the nature of her situation without Williams needing to say more. When Mrs Clavey swallows a tiny amount of water, we’re told ‘It tasted like a cold, salted variety of her favorite payang cougou tea’, Williams demonstrates how the specific choice of words can provide a vivid image, as well as reveal more about the type of woman Mrs Clavey is.
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