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Taking Care

4.31 of 5 stars 4.31  ·  rating details  ·  324 ratings  ·  42 reviews
Stories deal with a young divorcee, a shared summer home, a troubled family, a wedding, childhood fears, the death of a pet, a lying child, and enlightenment.
256 pages
Published July 12th 1985 by Vintage (first published 1982)
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Mariel
Mar 30, 2012 Mariel rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: I've got the joy, joy, joy down in my heart
Recommended to Mariel by: joy, victoria, gloria, felicity, april, may, june
Shelves: my-love-life
Joy Williams beloved dog turned on her. She had to put him down. I used to have a doberman named Sanchez a la Mancha. My brother rescued him from a dire situation. Sanchez was understandably crazy. A lot of other people's pets have passed into my company over the years and that's what happened there. I had Sanchez from the age of fourteen until I was twenty-four. He always had separation anxiety. Over the years something inside his doggy skull turned that anxiety into an Ike Turner variety of lo ...more
Jonathan
Oct 21, 2013 Jonathan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jonathan by: Mariel
Shelves: favorites
Stunning. Simply stunning. Like small, clouded pearls dropped perfectly at the corner of my vision.

These stories glitter in fragments, they whisper, hint, suggest, gesture towards...There is the touch of the Fable in them, and a touch of madness. Sometimes I found I was holding my breath, whether through tension or for fear of startling them silent, I don't know.

The words in this book do what short stories are suppose to do. Each one is a finger held against a pressure point, a touch that echo
...more
Melki
In my quest to read one short story a day, I have finally pulled this book from the shelf where it's been patiently waiting for over 25 years. And, WOW! There are some amazing stories in this collection!

Most of them deal with the seemingly mundane aspects of life - people raising children and trying to keep a marriage together. Others take a decidedly darker turn. All of them consist of beautiful words, strung together by an undeniably talented writer.

Sam and Elizabeth met as people usually mee
...more
Jessica
Jan 20, 2014 Jessica rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jessica by: NO ONE! I had to discover her MYSELF!
Uh so no offense, but I'm pretty irritated with you guys. Why didn't you tell me about Joy Williams? You're supposed to be my FRIENDS.

I don't know why I never heard of this lady before. Given all the millions of hours I've spent on this BOOK REPORT website, you'd think someone would've been nice enough to have clued me in. It seems like she's pretty famous, but I never came across her until I read "Train" a week or two ago in an anthology and was like, "Who is this Florida writer who is so hilar
...more
j. ergo
it's not like i didn't expect it to be good, even though i associate her w/ a "literary" movement i once liked, but have long since moved on from & developed strong negative feelings for. thank god i'm an idiot who doesn't know shit about shit. i haven't read something this good in a long time, & i'm pretty good/lucky at choosing stuff i like. williams draws comparisons often to flannery o'connor, presumably b/c she's from the south & also a woman, &, hopefully, b/c she's so good ...more
Lucas Miller
These are the best short stories I have read in a long while.

If I were to make a short story mixed tape, "Breakfast" would be on it twice.
Lauren
Taking Care is a short story collection of different sorts of love. The all-consuming love that you have no sense of self, the loss of love, the devotion, love towards the four-legged friends, just love.
The Lover and The Excursion are different stories about love but alike in the complete absorption in love. The Excursion weaves Jenny’s life between that of a lover and a five year old child. Jenny is not like the other children. From the perspective of her teacher, she tells lies to give structu
...more
Simon A. Smith
Joy Williams has quickly become one of my favorite writers and this has become one of my favorite collections of all time. It is pretty hard to explain the magic that is contained in each of these stories. Each story takes a million different turns and each outstanding/off-beat character moves the stories along with their own unique brand of humor, angst and language. Williams has what Carver had in his short stories, a surpise at every turn, the most frighteningly realistic dialogue, and the mo ...more
Brian
Combines the brevity of Raymond Carver with a sense of looming terror that is unlike almost anyone I think I've ever read. Don't get me wrong, there's many moments in Williams' first (I think?) book of shorts that are gorgeous, funny and tender, but there's also something very, very frightening about these stories.

For example, the nameless husband of the nameless protagonist in the first story, as he wheels her out of the delivery room following the birth of their first child, remarks to his yo
...more
Sabra Embury

It's incredible, the words on pages in stories that make us want to write, or read, versus words and stories that have a paralyzing effect. The work of Joy Williams often has the latter effect on me.

My love for Joy Williams began a few months ago, with the Changeling. Since then, it's not only become impossible for me to enjoy the works of others, but anything I write looks like garbage.

The subjects in Taking Care are consistent. Men and women; girls, their friends and pets; lovers on the brink
...more
Frances Coles
I used to adore Joy Williams when I was a senior in college. I tried to write like her. These sort of weird, mannered, elliptical stories, where people do extreme things in a deadpan way. I think that there is something about her writing that really appeals to young people, especially perhaps to young aspiring writers. The alienation of it, maybe, which can be a justification for avoiding the world (that was the case with me, anyway). And the fact that her writing looks easy to imitate, although ...more
Tao
May 22, 2007 Tao rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Lydia Davis, Depressed people
I like this book.

This book is funny, detached, sarcastic, calm, and other things.
S.B.
My favorite short-story collection of all time.
Iris
Hand over heart.
Steven
After reading Ms. Williams novel, Breaking and Entering, several years ago, I've wanted to dive deeper into her catalogue, so I was excited when I discovered this collection of short stories at a local used bookstore. Her style is so distinctive that you never forget you're in a Joy Williams story, and yet she completely immerses you in the psychological state of her characters. Those looking for plot-filled stories should look elsewhere, for most of these are slice-of-life narratives that slowl ...more
Patrick Faller
For the stories "Summer" and "Winter Chemistry." Much more than her later collection HONORED GUEST, which lacks a certain depth of field--the characters aren't definite figures so much as they're amalgams of a wary sensibility, the kind that drives people toward extremes of fear, sarcasm, and violence--the Williams at work in TAKING CARE molds her characters from the landscape, grounding their intense though quietly held fears in a natural world on the verge of pushing out its human inhabitants. ...more
Alex Mattingly
These stories are unlike anything I've read. I really enjoyed her interview in 'The Paris Review' and so I ordered this collection, which is brilliant and sharp and anything but tidy. I'm only sorry I didn't start reading her sooner.
Autumn
I enjoy a good short story and am always amazed at how some authors can create such a powerful, emotional punch or quickly draw the reader into a character’s life in so few pages. Unfortunately, I usually don’t get the full impact of short stories because I’m not great with symbolism and reading between the lines. In fact, sometimes I get frustrated when short stories are too enigmatic and open-ended. Joy Williams deals in both symbols and open-endings, but she does it in such a wonderful way, c ...more
Sarah
This is the best collection of short stories I've ever read. The writing is simply beautiful, title story in particular.
Vincent Scarpa
In so many ways, Joy Williams is a peerless short story writer. There's just nobody doing it like she does it. Which is not a comment on quality so much as it is on ingenuity and style: you can recognize a Joy Williams story from the first graf, sometimes the first line. That being said, and having finished all three of her collections now, there are a few stories here and there that are more or less forgettable. But the majority stick with you long after having finished them. The best ones here ...more
Drew
I'll admit: it had been a minute since I discovered a new favorite writer. Joy 2 The World.
Paul
Great stories. Having just read Faulkner, it took me a few stories to get into Williams' stripped-down style. The person who recommended this to me said "Make sure you read every story ever by Joy Williams," and the back of the book boasts praise from like likes of Carver, Salter, Ann Beattie, etc., so I persevered. Great stuff. Emotionally wrought, complex narratives told through simple, straightforward prose. Several of the stories are really top-notch. Recommended.
Matthew Peck
It's hard to explain why Joy Williams's writing is so awesome; you'll just have to dive in and read. This is her earliest story collection and some of the selections seem to be from a time when her style was not mastered yet, but others are perfect. My favorites: 'The Lover'; 'Traveling to Pridesup'; 'The Farm'; 'Winter Chemistry'; 'Breakfast' (later expanded into her great novel Breaking And Entering') and the title story.
Nathan Oates
This is a writer I've always meant to read, but for some reason never did. A few days ago I picked the book off my shelves (while piling up books to get rid of) and read the first story. Then the second. She's astonishingly good. "Woods" is one of the best short stories I've ever read.
Jessica
Vintage Joy Williams is a treat. Almost all of these short stories describe chaotic lives of adults, into which young children are inserted almost as afterthoughts (as afterthoughts into the lives, not the stories). Heartbreaking.
Laurel Beth
sometimes all short stories are so beautiful and tragic and comforting and germane but you never really remember enough about them after reading for them to take effect. let's call this the "raymond carver ramification".
Antha
Joy Williams is amazing. I can't wait to read her novel "The Quick and the Dead." The story "Breakfast" in this book is one of the best I've read. And she does spooky and ominous so well!
Katherine
This book blew my mind!

How does she do it?

When I wasn't marveling over Joy Williams's craft, I was wondering what it was that made being a woman in the 1970s so dark.
Amy
God, Joy Williams rocks. I loved Honored Guest when I read it this summer, and this early collection of her stories is great, too. She has moves I aspire to. She moves me.
Rupert
This one is still my favorite Joy Williams book, although that might be because it was also the first one I read, so her voice was all the more fresh to me. Subtle strangeness.
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Williams is the author of four novels. Her first, State of Grace (1973), was nominated for a National Book Award for Fiction. Her most recent novel, The Quick and the Dead (2000), was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Her first collection of short stories was Taking Care, published in 1982. A second collection, Escapes, followed in 1990. A 2001 essay collection, Ill Nature: Rants and ...more
More about Joy Williams...
The Quick and the Dead Honored Guest Breaking and Entering Escapes State of Grace

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“Sam and Elizabeth met as people usually meet. Suddenly, there was a deceptive light in the darkness. A light that reminded the lonely blackly of the darkness.” 3 likes
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