Moderate to Poor, Occasionally Good

By Eley Williams

A Granta Best Young British Novelist

‘A thrilling love for the stuff of language … Magical’ JON McGREGOR

‘A visionary writer’ JAN CARSON

‘Erudite and audacious’ KIERAN GODDARD

The stunning new collection of stories from the award-winning author of The Liar’s Dictionary and Attrib. and Other Stories.

Granta Best Young British novelist and acclaimed author of Attrib. and other stories, Eley Williams returns with a thrilling collection of short stories exploring the nature of relationships both intimate and transient – from the easy gamesmanship of contagious yawns to the horror of a smile fixed for just a second too long.

A courtroom sketch artist delights in committing portraits of their lover to paper but their need to capture likenesses forever is revealed to have darker, more complex intentions. A child’s schoolyard crush on a saint marks a confrontation with the reality of a teenage body in flux. Elsewhere, an editor of canned laughter loses their confidence and seeks divine intervention, and an essayist annotates their thoughts on Keats by way of internet-gleaned sex tips.

Moderate to Poor, Occasionally Good hums with fossicking language and ingenious experiments in form and considers notions of playfulness, authenticity and care as it holds relationships to account: their sweet misunderstandings, soured reflections, queer wish fulfilments and shared, held breaths.

‘I don’t know anyone else who can write like this’ BEN PESTER

‘Vital, vivid and oddly companionable stories’ DAVID HAYDEN

‘A joy for the head and the heart’ RUBY COWLING

Format: Hardback
Release Date: 18 Jul 2024
Pages: 208
ISBN: 978-0-00-861892-6
Eley Williams\' collection of fiction Attrib. and Other Stories (2017) was awarded the Republic of Consciousness Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. Her novel The Liar\'s Dictionary won a 2021 Betty Trask Award, was shortlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize and listed as a Guardian Book of the Year. In 2023, she was selected as one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists. Her writing is published in journals and anthologies including Modern Queer Poets, The Penguin Book of the Contemporary British Short Story edited by Philip Hensher, and Liberating the Canon edited by Isabel Waidner, with stories and serialised fiction also commissioned by Radio 4. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

”'There are very few writers with as clear and thrilling a love for the stuff of language as Eley Williams. These are stories of deft surprise and smuggled revelations, glorious snapshots of lives lived with bafflement and wonder. Magical” - Jon McGregor, author of Lean Fall Stand

”'For every brush with darkness in these wonderful stories, there is a counterpoint of light, bright enough to come off the page and go with you about your day. I don’t know anyone else who can write like this - language does something special for Eley Williams. What a joy!” - Ben Pester, author of Am I in the Right Place?

'Vital, vivid and oddly companionable stories… that make wonders from the ordinary in a heady but precise wordplay' David Hayden, author of Darker With the Lights On -

”'Eley Williams is a visionary writer. She does things with words most writers can only dream about. Reading Williams makes me want to up my game as a writer. Each story is a multi-layered, kaleidoscopic exploration of a moment. Williams writes with both buoyancy and tremendous weight” - Jan Carson, author of Quickly, While They Still Have Horses

‘Swimming in Williams’ oceanic imagination is a joy for the head and the heart. Moderate to Poor, Occasionally Good presents wave after wave of delightful, face-slapping linguistic shock’ Ruby Cowling, author of This Paradise -

‘There’s a frightening type of joy in these stories; erudite and audacious, Williams’ work is satisfying in the same way I imagine throwing something delicate and valuable off a cliff must be satisfying’ Keiran Goddard, author of I See Buildings Fall Like Lightening -

”'With her new short fiction collection, Eley Williams confirms her status as champion of the quixotic, the profound, the pulling-the-rug-from-under-your-feet unexpected. A writer to treasure, with not a cliché in sight” - Catherine Taylor, author of The Stirrings