Writing comedic literature is difficult, or at least, writing comedic literature well is difficult. It’s especially hard to put out a consistently funny collection of short stories, where each piece needs to land. A constant stream of wit is something most writers cannot sustain across a whole book, and most ‘funny’ short story collections have the same tone as a decent sketch show – very hit and miss. Thankfully Lara Williams’ debut is not one of those books, even better, it’s consistently funny, sharply insightful, and painfully honest.
Treats is a collection about modern relationships, about alienation and sexual politics within those relationships, and the things that happen when those relationships fall apart (or sometimes, perhaps should have fallen apart, but haven’t). From stories about toxic shock syndrome, to the perils of owning a cat, and to a man with a fetish for penguins (‘I would like you to dress up like a penguin and incubate some eggs’) Williams brings a level of awkward humour to it which brings to mind writers like Miranda July, or Lena Dunham, or even at times Simon Rich.
It’s important to note though that humour is not the only reason for these stories to exist, they are not quick jokes, though they are funny. Williams’ skewering of modern relationships, and her ability to tell a great story are the key here, and she finds the humour within the stories, rather than letting it take over.
Any Cop?: Treats is a great debut, and a sign of more excellent things to come from Lara Williams.