BOOK: The Valley of Happiness by George Williams

In The Valley of Happiness George Williams returns with a second collection of stories as original and arresting as his first, Gardens of Earthly Delight. From a Texas reservoir a fisherman hauls in a record-breaking bass that transforms his life forever. In Georgia a man is required by federal law to become chattel for a day. A criminal and his ventriloquist’s dummy wreak havoc wherever they go. The son of a Syrian soap maker becomes obsessed with a fellow graduate student in Colorado and plans an atrocity he believes will bring him the admiration of the world. In the title story, two physicists traveling across southern Germany keep and reveal secrets about their relationships that comfort as much as they trouble. A girl discovers she has a strange medical condition that will eventually benefit the world. In the final story, two pickpockets working Indiana fall festivals make the mistake of lifting the wallet of a relentless and vindictive ATF agent.

In these fifteen stories, George Williams takes readers from 16th century England to 21st century post-apocalyptic Canada, from suburban Georgia to rural Texas, from a Baton Rouge motel to the shores of Northern California. At turns comic, disturbing, and visionary, The Valley of Happiness reveals a writer in peak form using a subtle, daring range of styles to create unforgettable characters, fully human in their heartbreak, cruelty, and capacity for self-deception.

George Williams was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee and grew up in Birmingham, Alabama and Richmond, Virginia. He is the author of a novel, Degenerate. His stories and essays have appeared in The Pushcart Prize, Boulevard, and The Hopkins Review, among others. He is the recipient of a Michener Fellowship and a grant from the Christopher Isherwood Foundation. He teaches at Savannah College of Art and Design and works as a consultant and writer for Corra Films.


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