Not Anyone’s Anything

by Ian Williams

April 2011
6 x 9 paper 224 pages
CDN $21.95

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Winner of the 2011 Danuta Gleed Literary Award

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, and feature embedded flash cards and musical notations, literal basements, and dual narratives, semi-detached. Roaming through Toronto and its surrounding suburbia, Williams’s characters wittily and wryly draw attention to the angst and anxieties associated with being somewhere between adolescence and more-than-that. They are disastrously ambitious, performing amateur surgery or perfecting 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.

“In these nuanced, restless stories, Williams subverts our conventional expectations of narrative. Minutely observed, his characters’ disconsolate lives swerve off one another, as they again and again attempt to connect. And yet this oblique, intense approach to story and character profoundly captures the real. Not Anyone’s Anything discloses a radical new voice in Canadian fiction.”—Rhea Tregebov


“The writing in Not Anyone’s Anything is fresh, funny, and intelligent. This is a solid first book with gripping, convincing dialogue, a fluid sense of urbanity, and structural innovation that doesn’t come off as trickery. You see the poet here, in the crisp choice of language and even in the line breaks, as Williams uses typography and unusual layout to suggest a split-screen view of life. This is a brilliant collection.”

—Danuta Gleed Literary Award jury (Gail Anderson-Dargatz, Robin McGrath, and Hal Niedzviecki)

“Rather than whimsy, Williams uses humour and play like the best comics to address difficult contemporary issues such as race, relationships or the 21st century. Like all intriguing new voices, he excels at giving you not what you want, but what you need.”


“The collection includes both traditional forms and poems that abandon tradition: there is a successful villanelle, haiku, and a triolet; there’s also some typographical trickery and conceptual poetry.”
Quill & Quire

 Other Reviews & Interviews

“Williams proves himself a writer of intelligence and humour to watch for, both for his edgy style and for the intricacy of his plots, the amazing network of irony and most of all, the human appeal of his characters.” – Prairie Fire Review of Books, March 2013.

“Review,” Prairie Journal 56, 2012.

“Stories for thirtysomethings: Williams tackles tough issues being faced by young Canadians,” The Chronicle Herald, September 2, 2012.