Thomas Williams is not a particularly well-known writer. In his day, he wrote eight novels, won the National Book Award, but is more known for tying for that award (which has happened a few years), with Robert Stone, a much more well-known writer. His most famous work, The Hair of Harold Roux, is a strange book I have read about half of (I am going to return to it), about a writer working on a novel while teaching future writers. And this kind of subject matter, a writer writing about writers, often leads to writers reading your work, and no one else. I came across him because Stephen King has made several comments about him.
Reading these stories, it’s clear to that Thomas Williams is a wonderfully talented writer of sentences, but that his novels most likely got his best work. Several of these stories are perfectly good, a few are great, and a few are completely forgettable. The result then is an uneven collection that all take place within the same small town in New Hampshire. But because these represent a forty year career, there’s some inborn unevenness in the writing, and of course, he’s not the same writer throughout the whole career. And I make the comment about being more of a novel writer because for a writer who wrote eight novels, he also only published ten or so stories. And in reading the introduction, he uses excerpts from a few novels to read out a relatively svelte 280 page collected stories edition.
So while I am interested in copies of his works, I left this one at the coffee shop for someone else.