Excerpt from How High? -- That High by Diane Williams, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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How High? -- That High

by Diane Williams

How High? -- That High by Diane Williams X
How High? -- That High by Diane Williams
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2021, 128 pages

    Sep 2022, 128 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Rory L. Aronsky
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These stories appear in How High? — That High by Diane Williams, published by Soho Press (2021).


How best to touch these woody objects or a person?

She batted together the parts of the sycamore stick she had broken in two and then made of them the self-important capital letter T—and she spun one.

She rolled the stick over her thumb and then she tried for greater twirling speed, as she sat on the park bench that bore a personalized inscribed plaque dedicated to MY DEAREST NANCY.

She is not that Nancy, nor is she a beloved Lara yet, who might have a plan that aims to shore up her heart and her strength, with tools and accessories that support her life in the early-evening-burning-summertime in the city.

Just do it, she thought, and she put the stick through its paces again. Its athleticism, its success, it seemed to her, could foretell her own. So that it pained her when she had to throw the sticks away.

She stood suddenly to walk on, but instead paused to watch girls at their hopscotch game—hop, hop, hop, jump, and bow. They bowed down when they stooped to retrieve their pebble marker.

To revive her sense of purpose, the woman was out on the avenue, hugging her little body.

Her feet felt pinched inside her shoes, her best shoes. Her stylized hair fell down her shoulders. What else?

She put one foot precisely in front of the other, just like the old adage prescribed—just to test what that would feel like.

Would this help her to suppose that she was any more determined—any more capable of taking care of herself?

She prayed nobody was paying her any mind, as this gambit caused her hips to sidle this way that way, lewdly.

In her own home she had no witness.

At bedtime, these days, she entered the room alone in which she and the dour Don Super had once slept together. He had so often recoiled from her.

Well, oughtn't she be able to reach out to a trusted person with the same confidence she has when she takes up a bar of soap or nudges a chair back?

From a distance, she used to watch Super's penis rise, because he had made it clear that he had no need for her participation. And although his appendage essentially floated in place—it also looked ready and able to propel itself.

What this woman decided on Fifth Avenue, in the here and now, is that she ought to plow forward and skip!

She should not permit her arms and hands to drag down like wet noodles.


She was so thankful for that cheerful dot in the sky!

And the sighting of the moon served Ms. Coyte well as temporary encouragement. She had been weeping and she does so whenever she can—and it's sad to see how bad this is in what might be viewed as a pleasure house for some.

Gee! The full-size moon gained a victory over the woman—Ms. Dorothy Coyte (née Hiles).

But in the morning, she noted with dumbfoundment the locket that the innkeeper wore, and she thought—Maybe, if I had bought the one like that one in Philadelphia—everything would have turned out better for me.

People! People love lockets!

Roderica Dobson, the innkeeper, put her life story forward for Ms. Coyte at breakfast and she was so happy to tell it. Also, Dobson was very beautiful, although the tale she told concerned her severe loss of reputation, as well as an appreciable sum of money.

Even so, the aura of the house produced for both women a touch of comfort and low-key luxury. This was especially the case at the core of the house where the hall walls were covered by wallpaper bearing a pastel lily-pad theme—and there was a broad verandah with chairs.

"Are you married?" Dobson asked while Coyte plied the pastry Dobson called a kuchen. What's a kuchen?

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Excerpted from How High? -- That High by Diane Williams. Copyright © 2021 by Diane Williams. Excerpted by permission of Soho Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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