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Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine

2.80  ·  Rating details ·  732 ratings  ·  186 reviews
One of Elle's "Must-Read Titles for Your Book Club." Chosen by The Millions and Flavorwire as one of the most-anticipated books of 2016.

The very short stories of Diane Williams have been aptly called “folk tales that hammer like a nail gun,” and these 40 new ones are sharper than ever. They are unsettling, yes, frequently revelatory, and more often than not downright funny
Hardcover, 131 pages
Published January 26th 2016 by McSweeney's
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Average rating 2.80  · 
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 ·  732 ratings  ·  186 reviews

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“I don’t like you very much and I don’t think you’re fascinating.”

Dnf-ed at 21%. The above quote was probably the most interesting sentence I've come across until I gave up. How ironic.

Short short stories, or rather flash fiction, so full of themselves without making any sense. Mostly vague-ish prose, not coming to the point, just meh.

Apprently I am easily swayed by a catchy title and/or eye-catching cover art. Cause that cover...pure art. Collage from the 1960's with gouache overpainting a
Jan 19, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: short-stories
It's not fine. It's not fine at all. It's flash fiction with no substance and an excess of style. Around page thirty I wanted it to stop, but I finished for two reasons:

1. So it would go toward my book goal.
2. So I could say it was terrible with full authority.

It's terrible. Turgid with unnecessarily elevated language. Lifeless characters moving through scenes without purpose or emotion. Page after page of empty cleverness. I think the unnamed husband in "To Revive a Person is No Slight Thing"
Jan 11, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Wanted to love this as much as I loved the cover, which made me buy it. Ha. Alas these were too vague for me and I think I'll remember a feeling of this book rather than the stories which all merge in to one vague mess bar two which were brilliant. On the plus side I've learnt flash fiction is perfect commute reading, just not such vague and seemingly pointless flash fiction sadly. Ouch. Sorry but true. Some people will loooooove this, just not me I need more concentrated substance however brief ...more
Sep 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: weird-stuff
Equally thrilling and frustrating. Williams tiny stories aren't really stories even though there are some brilliant sentences throughout (often right next to sentences that just die in your brain). Williams best work can be found in her earlier books (The Stupefaction!) and in her wonderful literary journal, Noon. I'm really glad that she's being rediscovered by some new fans the last couple of years, but they should know that these last two books are her weakest collections. From the story, Gli ...more
Feb 12, 2016 added it
Shelves: short-stories
No, no, no, no, no.
Peter Landau
May 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
I’m sick, not fevered, but stuffed and runny. Weak and unable to rest because it was my daughter’s birthday, the normal narrative of my life today is skewed a bit to the side and everything looks, feels, smells, tastes and sounds different. There’s no beginning, middle and ending when you’re ill, just a continuous buzz.

It’s sort of like my Kindle as compared to a physical book. Having read all the books in the house, I returned to the Kindle and scrolled the long list of books in my Amazon cart
Dec 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
"Diane Williams is one of the true living heroes of the American avant-garde. Herfiction makes very familiar things very, very weird."
- Jonathan Franzen

"The uncanny has met its ideal delivery system: the stories of Diane Williams."
- Ben Marcus

To see Diane Williams championed by Jonathan Franzen and Ben Marcus is a testament to her unique position in American literature. The phenomenally successful Jonathan Franzen and the relatively obscure Ben Marcus re-affirmed their own positions in American
Paul Fulcher
A book which was already on my literary radar, but which I ultimately read due to its inclusion on the shortlist of the wonderful new crowd-funded Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses, indeed I won the copy I read in a prize-draw for those funding the prize.

The prize focuses on ‘hardcore literary fiction and gorgeous prose’ and I think it is fair to say Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine does that: certainly it is for the ‘hardcore’ reader.

The 115 page book consists of 40 very short stori
Jim Coughenour
Feb 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: darkandfunny, fiction
Like a colored box of candies you shouldn't eat all at once but do, Diane Williams delights bite by bite, each comic story barely long enough for a sip of coffee to slip down and settle. It's as if she's found stale crusts of speech and buttered them together into sugary bricoloage.
She had been lucky in love as she understood it.

I must say that our behavior is continually under review and any one error alters our prestige, but there'll be none of that lifting up mine eyes unto the hills.

We do we
Amy Gentry
Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
The epigraph of Diane Williams' new collection of funny and alarming stories, "Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine," comes from a pamphlet called "What You Should Know About Fortune-Telling," written in the 1920s by Jewish-American polymath Leo Markun. One of thousands of Little Blue Book pocket guides for the working class, the pamphlet ultimately warns its readers against fortune-telling as "charlatanry and fraud," but Williams finds the glint of strangeness in this sobering piece of pedantry: "How l ...more
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-rofc, 2017
I re-read this one or two stories at a time with longish gaps between. I thought it might make more sense that way. It did. But I am not inclined to give it any more stars.


From The Guardian: "Williams's exquisitely deadpan method can result in a story that evidently means something devastating but is so obliquely sketched that the moral is left tantalisingly out of reach. Or it can produce something that just seems hermetic and odd. The experience of reading 40 of them in on
Dec 10, 2015 rated it really liked it

A collection of flash fiction stories, stories that sometimes last only a few seconds, the flip of a page. First off, what a great title. I think the title really tells readers everything we need to know about the collection of stories before we even crack the spine (or open the book carefully in order not to crack the spine...or just tap the screen of our ereader because we’ve been lucky enough to get an advanced reader copy). Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine. There is a rushed energy that I get ev
Jun 16, 2016 rated it did not like it
If one were to take psychotropic drugs while playing madlibs in the dark and then translated all of that resulted into another language and then retranslated that back into English, this is the puzzlingly unfunny, non-revelatory outcome.
Jan 09, 2016 rated it it was ok
I didn't see the appeal. I would have liked more meat, most of these seemed to be a collection of random sentences. I don't know. I felt dim after I read them, because I didn't understand any. And after a week, I can't remember a single one.
Patty Cottrell
May 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Fuck you realism! Go Diane Williams!
Amanda Alexandre
Feb 22, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: disappointments
I don't smoke the marijuana necessary to understand this.

DNF at. 29%.
Sep 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Even though I loved Excitability this one didn't do it for me, apart from a couple of brilliant ones (eg 'The Great Passion and its Context' where wryness and arousal - 'triggered by no one in particular' - worked together well). Apart from some lines here and there I couldn't seem to warm to them, found the deliberate triviality and cleverness boring. Probably me. ...more
Gumble's Yard
Mar 12, 2017 rated it did not like it
I won this book as a raffle prize for my part in funding the fantastic new literary prize "The Republic of Consciousness"

The shortlist for the award consisted of four novels and four short stories. My own preference is very much for novels over short stories, but this prize has given me the opportunity to engage with an unfamiliar genre.

Williams unique style is described on the book's front cover as "very short stories": many are only a page in length, an
Gayle Slagle
Aug 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Flash literature is defined as brief, creative writing generally between 500 and 1500 words. Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine by Diane Williams certainly fits the definition. Having never read Williams, I was a bit taken aback when I started reading short stories that are truly short.......between one and four pages long. The first two that I read totally confused me and I thought, "What the Hell?" However, I persevered as a lover of words and literature would do and in the end was rewarded with vig ...more
Nov 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Really, really weird stories (not in a fantasy or sf sense, but weird in a "I don't understand this person's basic worldview, motivations, or even the structure of their world"), but reading them back to back to back somehow you fall into their strange universe and they all make sense. I'm not sure Williams' other books will be at the top of my TBR list, but I'm glad I read this one.
Jan 26, 2016 rated it it was ok
Alternate title: Weird, Weird, Weird, Weird, Weird

This is the first compilation of flash fiction I've read. I love the idea of brevity - just a page or two (or less) to craft an entire story, but this collection borders on nonsense. There are a few beautifully crafted sentences, but it's like they've been placed in a word search jumble.


Title: The Poet
She carves with a sharply scalloped steel blade, makes slices across the top of a long, broad loaf of yeasted bread for the dog who begs a
Rose Gowen
Trying to rate these stories according to normal literary standards would be beside the point. Things happen, but it's hard to say, or even know, what. There are persons, with names, but no character development. It's hard to say, upon finishing a story, whether it has fulfilled its promise, since it's hard to say what any of them are setting out to do in the first place.

I could then try to rate this book according to my enjoyment of it. But I don't want to. Much of the language is fun or funny
Маx Nestelieiev
Jun 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: english
I decided to read this because:
- it is short
- it was named 'one of most-anticipated books of 2016'
and I must say that:
- it was even shorter that I guess
- it was total bullshit. extra-short stories about women & men, they are all unhappy and you don`t find nor beginnings neither endings in these stories. glad this waste of time was not huge waste of time.
Hannah Fenster
Jun 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I am obsessed with sparse prose that packs a punch. Reading Diane Williams gave me the same gut reaction I got when reading Lydia Davis for the first time, and that was an experience of surprise and wonder. (Then it came as no surprise that Davis gave Williams a rave blurb on this book's jacket.)
Kent Winward
Dec 02, 2018 rated it liked it
I enjoy flash fiction, but this collection was no where near Lydia Davis. It had its moments where it was fine and quite a few that were not so fine. I also read Mel Bosworth and Ryan Ridge's Weird Weeks at the same time and they played on the weird and unusual and you knew they were doing that. Williams seemed to head into the weird while clinging to a reality that really wasn't all that fun. This might explain the hot/cold reactions to this book. Me, I am lukewarm about it. ...more
Melanie Worth
Oct 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure why I loved this so much. I've read, and re-read, the stories in random order and can never remember if I've already read what I'm reading. I can't think of a single person I'd recommend this book to. And yet... 4 stars! Diane's is a crazy-talented wordsmith and I know I'll keep reading these stories a few more times over before I'm ready to let them go.

The cover art and the title both get 5 stars.
Mar 02, 2018 rated it did not like it
What? What? What? What? What?

This isn't a book of short stories. I don't know what it is. It seems that the author clipped paragraphs from a hundred different books and pasted them all together in a crazy collage. The result is disjointed scenes that reel drunkenly from one thought to the next.

I think it's hilarious that Fine is being promoted as a great book club selection. I can only imagine how my group members would react to this.
Jul 14, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I didn’t get this at all! I only enjoyed about 5 of these stories and even those weren’t that notable.
Jackie Law
Feb 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, by Diane Williams, is a collection of forty very short stories exploring such wide ranging themes as life, death, love, sex and associated, often fractious, relationships. There is a rough honesty to the thoughts and interactions in each snapshot – for a snapshot is all that can be offered in a tale that plays out in so few words. These are little moments of detail, vividly recalled with a point that is not always clear.

The opacity adds to the sense that the reader
Jaclyn Crupi
Jan 06, 2016 rated it liked it
I'm being generous with the 3 stars but it's tricky to rate flash fiction. There's a lot of style here and some substance. There's some great writing. There's some flat writing (surprisingly). There is definitely some exciting experimentation with form. Super weird and strange and not sure it was for me.
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Diane Williams is an American author, primarily of short stories. She lives in New York City and is the founder and editor of the literary annual NOON (est. 2000). She has published 8 books and taught at Bard College, Syracuse University and The Center for Fiction in New York City.

Her books have been reviewed in many publications, including the New York Times Book Review ("An operation worthy of a

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