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Book Cover for: Beautiful Days: Stories, Zach Williams

Beautiful Days: Stories

Zach Williams

Critic Reviews


Based on 4 reviews on

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From New Yorker and Paris Review contributor Zach Williams comes a striking and savage debut story collection that confronts parenthood, mortality, and life's broken promises.

A couple awakens in a home in the woods to find themselves rapidly aging as their toddler remains unchanged. A work-worn employee navigates conspiracy theories and the threat of violence in an abandoned office. A tour guide leads a troublesome group to an ancient structure, apparently nonhuman in origin, discovering along the way that the most mysterious creatures of all are right beside him.

These ten stories show the fallibility of time and how reality reveals itself behind the gauze of a dream--or a nightmare. Throughout, Williams illustrates how quickly we come to the edges of our patience and endurance, the hidden damages lurking in the shadows of the everyday, the distances we must travel to protect our families, and the tenuousness of even our deepest relationships. Williams sees the perversity in the mundane and dares readers to confront the power--and beauty--of time's relentless movement.

With exquisite prose and a lacerating wit, Beautiful Days holds a mirror to the many absurdities of being human and refuses to let us look away.

Book Details

  • Publisher: Doubleday Books
  • Publish Date: Jun 11st, 2024
  • Pages: 240
  • Language: English
  • Dimensions: 8.35in - 5.59in - 1.02in - 0.85lb
  • EAN: 9780385550147
  • Categories: Short Stories (single author)LiteraryFamily Life - General

About the Author

ZACH WILLIAMS is a Jones Lecturer in Fiction at Stanford University, where he previously held a Wallace Stegner Fellowship. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and McSweeney's Quarterly Concern. His story "Trial Run" was one of three that won The Paris Review a 2023 ASME Award for Fiction. Originally from Wilmington, Delaware, he currently resides with his family in San Francisco.

Critics’ reviews

Praise for this book

"Zach Williams is a brilliant, singular, deep, and deeply entertaining writer. You will continue to think about and feel these stories long after you have finished reading them. They will change you." --Jonathan Safran Foer, New York Times bestseller and author of Here I Am

"Beautiful Days is a remarkable collection. These stories are full of irony and absurdity, but are never sleight, glib or waggish. Zach Williams paints us into every story with quick, deft strokes and then unfolds, with a scarily confident hand, the rest of the canvas, full of surprises and truths and stuff we never imagined." --Percival Everett, Booker Prize finalist and author of James

"A brilliant debut." --Jeffrey Eugenides, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of The Marriage Plot

"Beautiful Days brings a reader though strange and grounded lands on just the other side of reality. You will come through changed, shaken, thoughtful, and totally amazed." --Samantha Hunt, author of The Unwritten Book

"Every so often a writer comes along who seems to have access to something not quite rational, some tone or feeling that lies under the surface of things. Zach Williams is such a writer. His beautiful, disquieting stories are profound in the true meaning of that word--they go deep. He's a major talent, and this is an exciting debut." --Hari Kunzru, author of White Tears, Red Pill and Blue Ruin

"These stories begin in this world, the one we all inhabit and recognize, and then they travel to another place that's eerie, unsettling, and beautiful. You can't predict where the stories will go--or who, or what, will be the half-visible presence there. Beautiful Days contains elegant mysteries, and the book stays in the mind long after you've read it." --Charles Baxter, author of The Sun Collective

"These stories are elegies for days yet to arrive, which Zach Williams can somehow see coming. His stories are strangely infused with emotions that as yet have no names, because they are only now, in Beautiful Days, finding representation on the page. The visionary weirdness of the stories feels hauntingly attuned to our time. Because I read them headlong, one after the other, it was some time after closing the book before I began to grasp what had happened--I was still in them. They are not really short stories at all, but worlds impossible to leave." --Elizabeth Tallent, author of Scratched: A Memoir of Perfectionism