Joy Williams’ The Quick and the Dead is unlike any novel I’ve read. What separates this book from a lot of writing is the ever shifting point of view, and the how characters enter and leave the narrative in ways that do not conform to any of the advice from the dozens of books on fiction writing.
If I had to pare down the prose for a blurb or a quick summary, I’d say this novel is about the boundaries between living and dying. The characters seem caught in a state where they are neither wholly alive nor dead yet. Some of them are paralyzed by grief, trapped by their televisions, haunted by the recently deceased, medicated, obsessed with their image, and regurgitating slogans. The novel takes place in Arizona, and the desert exerts its will upon the characters. Perhaps they are reflecting the life and death struggle of survival in the desert?
While this book wasn’t conventional, it was entertaining, interesting, intriguing, and raw.