Joy Williams’s Cosmic Apocalypse

Justin Taylor at Bookforum:

That something can be existent without properly existing, caught halfway between being and nonbeing, or between life and death, is a concept much larger than Williams’s straightforward claims about the eradication of the Everglades. The notion of a foundational in-between-ness, of existence itself as a fleeting or fugacious form, has been central to her work from the very beginning. The writer Vincent Scarpa, who has studied and taught Williams’s work extensively, put it to me this way: “That liminal state between being alive and being dead—that’s Joy’s playground.” He reminded me that nursing homes, “these collectives where it goes unacknowledged or otherwise refused that the living are only playing at living,” feature frequently in her work. “But we’re really all in that liminal state, just to varying degrees.” Sure enough, a nursing home is a central setting of Williams’s novel The Quick and the Dead (2000), which also features a petulant ghost. Expand the category a bit and you’ll find hospitals and hotels along with rest homes. Her 1988 novel, Breaking and Entering, is about a pair of drifters who squat Florida vacation homes. Florida itself is sometimes known as “God’s Waiting Room.”

more here.