Not Anyone's Anything
Freehand Books, 2011.
Ian Williams’s Not Anyone’s Anything is a trio of trios: three sets of three stories, with three of those stories further divided into thirds. Mathematical, musical, and meticulously crafted, these stories play profoundly with form, featuring flash cards and musical notations embedded in texts, literal basements, and dual narratives, semi-detached.
An aspiring pianist asks her brother to mutilate her hands. A Korean student confuses studying with seduction because of a shifty grad student. A woman, determined to beat a terminal disease, hunts for a breakthrough. An MBA builds a science fair project with a nine-year-old to avoid a family crisis. An intruder is trapped in the basement while the homeowners fret upstairs.
Roaming through Toronto and its surrounding suburbia, Williams’s characters wittily and wryly draw attention to the anxieties associated with being somewhere between adolescence and maturehood. They are disastrously ambitious, cutting the flaps of skin between their fingers to play Chopin; they are restless and bored, breaking into units of new subdivisions hoping for a score; they continually test the ones they love, and, though every time feels like the last time, they might be up for one more game.