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Can't and Won't by Lydia Davis
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Can't and Won't (2014)

by Lydia Davis

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A stripped down review.
Kind of like the stories or poems in Davis' compelling collection "can't and won't." I bought it with no preconceived conceptions, one of those bookstore finds, I think there was a staff pick on it, anyway, I was desperate for something different to read, and I got it.

Some of what I liked a lot...Short fiction pieces from Flaubert's actual writings—I learned this from her very last note in the acknowledgements—most were found in letters written from the author of Madame Bovary to his lover, Louise Colet.

I liked less the two or three lines musings, but some I did like.

I think every writer or would be writer should read, "The Language of Things in The House," what she imagines the sounds are from various activities such as "The wooden spoon in the plastic bowl stirring the pancake mix: 'What the hell, what the hell.' I imagine this would be a fun writing exercise in a workshop.

It's good, and it's imperfect enough to want me to keep reading other Lydia Davis collections.

--Caroline ( )
  cabockwrites | Jul 14, 2014 |
One of the best books I've read for a long time. It is a collection of articles, short essays, descriptions of dreams, conversations overheard and observations. Some are hilarious, some are very touching, some are masterpieces of insight. The best for me: The cows, The seals and The letter to the foundation. The problem of the vacuum cleaner is funny. Many make you stop reading and start writing something in similar vein. ( )
  jon1lambert | Jun 25, 2014 |
I would give it a 3.5/5. Read my full review here: http://loadstoread.wordpress.com/2014/05/29/cant-and-wont-by-lydia-davis/ ( )
  tejaswini00111 | Jun 18, 2014 |
what a great, weird collection. ( )
  DawsonOakes | May 27, 2014 |
Mixture of short stories. Some sad, some funny. Some short, some long. Some made perfect sense, some made none. ( )
  amanaceerdh | May 7, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374118582, Hardcover)

A new collection of short stories from the woman Rick Moody has called “the best prose stylist in America”

Her stories may be literal one-liners: the entirety of “Bloomington” reads, “Now that I have been here for a little while, I can say with confidence that I have never been here before.” Or they may be lengthier investigations of the havoc wreaked by the most mundane disruptions to routine: in “A Small Story About a Small Box of Chocolates,” a professor receives a gift of thirty-two small chocolates and is paralyzed by the multitude of options she imagines for their consumption. The stories may appear in the form of letters of complaint; they may be extracted from Flaubert’s correspondence; or they may be inspired by the author’s own dreams, or the dreams of friends.
     What does not vary throughout Can’t and Won’t, Lydia Davis’s fifth collection of stories, is the power of her finely honed prose. Davis is sharply observant; she is wry or witty or poignant. Above all, she is refreshing. Davis writes with bracing candor and sly humor about the quotidian, revealing the mysterious, the foreign, the alienating, and the pleasurable within the predictable patterns of daily life.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:01:52 -0400)

A fifth collection by the author of the National Book Award finalist, Varieties of Disturbance, includes pithy one-liners, exploratory observations and letters of complaint, including "A Small Story About a Small Box of Chocolates," in which a professor is stymied by her choices.… (more)

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