Joy Williams, “The Little Winter”

Screen-Shot-2012-02-13-at-8.39.04-PMGloria, a thirty-five-year-old woman dying of cancer, goes to visit her friend, Jean, and Jean’s strange daughter, and then sort-of kidnaps the girl.

(from Escapes)

There was something truly terrifying about girls on the verge of puberty, Gloria thought.

There is so much brilliance here, so many lines I would have marked if my copy weren’t hardcover and in such good condition. As I was reading this story, I kept checking to see how many pages I had left, wanting more and more. Anyhow, I loved this story so much until Gloria awakes in the middle of the night and then drives over to Jean’s house and actually takes off with her friend’s daughter, for no reason that I can discern. She doesn’t like this child, thinks she’s odd, and has spent the earlier part of the story wanting to be alone. At this point, the narrative zooms out, not letting us into Gloria’s head where we might see what she’s thinking, where we might get a feel for why she decides to do this and then keep doing it.

I want to rewrite “The Little Winter.” I don’t want Gloria to kidnap the kid or get a dog. I feel like a workshop class got ahold of it and kept asking the author, “But what makes this day different?” I would like to punch them all.

Despite these things, damn can Joy Williams write a sentence.

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