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Taking Care

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  511 Ratings  ·  49 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 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  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
El
Jun 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommended to El by: Rayroy
Reading short stories (for me, anyway) is something I have to do when I'm in the mood, generally. Some favorite American short story writers have been Margaret Atwood (Canadian, but shut up), Deborah Eisenberg, Flannery O'Connor, and John Cheever (even though I still haven't finished his collection). I could easily count Joy Williams among them.

This was my book club's selection this month; I was open to it, but then the library took its sweet-ass time getting it to me, and then it showed up last
...more
Lucas Miller
Apr 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Tao
May 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Lydia Davis, Depressed people
I like this book.

This book is funny, detached, sarcastic, calm, and other things.
Steven
Mar 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Brian
Sep 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: shortstories
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
Paul
Jul 16, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
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.
Iris
Apr 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Hand over heart.
Antha
Jan 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
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!
Sarah
Jan 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
My favorite short-story collection of all time.
Victoria
May 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 1980s
3 stars. I am not sure what to say about this, Lots of heartwrenching realistic stories here. Soaked of nostalgia, quirky and somewhat easy reader, yet I am a little depressed after reading this. Not bad writing, in fact it is very good! I might pick something else up from this author, but I am not rushing. Its spring time, I have the fever and need to get into a happier realm with easier summer spring reads. This is heavy and sinks like lead into the soul, if you have any knowledge of mental il ...more
Liz Ayre
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My favorite short story collection ever!!
Sabra Embury
Oct 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing

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
Patrick Faller
Apr 25, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Katherine
Oct 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
“The child’s eyes were closed and she was moving her thumb around in her mouth as though she were making butter there” (44).
“And there wasn’t any sun. Although it was noon, the light was second-hand and shabby” (51).
“The river was green and full of animals, stopping abruptly at the town and never appearing again, as though it were painted on, an apron of a stage” (53).
“As the evening wore on, the girl friend became quite drunk. She had a large repertoire of light-bulb jokes” (71).
“‘In this world
...more
Autumn
Apr 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
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
Vincent Scarpa
Jun 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
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
Matthew Peck
May 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Corie Sanford
Feb 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an arresting, painful, surprising series of stories. I am grateful to have encountered Williams' collection in the South, where palm trees and damp heat and vines encircle my own life as they do the lives of many in these stories. Williams writes of love in such familiar and searching tones, in such faulty and desperate characters. Easy five stars from me, so looking forward to reading more of her.
wilde (jessica)
May 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Damn. There are a few big things I can't figure out, and none of them have to do with the actual short stories (which are stunning and strange and raw and wholly original): 1. How has it taken me this long to read her work? 2. Why are literary folk not discussing Joy Williams constantly? 3. Seriously, why did I spend time trying to catch up on Alice Munro when this was out there?
Jessica
Oct 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: from-the-library, rpl
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".
Nathan Oates
Feb 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Greg
May 09, 2007 rated it really liked it
Had to revise this one upward after re-reading the title story the other day. Wow. One of the finest short stories I've read in awhile.
Brandon
May 12, 2013 rated it liked it
much more nebulous than her later collections. this is her first, no?
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Joy Williams 1 1 Jul 04, 2016 12:29PM  
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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
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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.” 5 likes
“Silence was a thing entrusted to the animals, the girl thought. Many things that human words have harmed are restored again by the silence of animals” 0 likes
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