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.