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The End of the Story: A Novel by Lydia Davis

The End of the Story: A Novel (original 1994; edition 2004)

by Lydia Davis

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3151235,272 (3.62)18
Title:The End of the Story: A Novel
Authors:Lydia Davis
Info:Picador (2004), Paperback, 240 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:wolves, xx, american, 21stcentury, firstperson, menandwomen, love, sex, sexuality, loveaffairs, california, experimental, loss, memory, subjectivity, thepast

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The End of the Story by Lydia Davis (1994)



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Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
At some point, the narrator describes her unwillingness to look at an old photograph of her subject because she knows he will look different than her memory of him. It's a metaphor for the writing process, when our subjects are our own lives and memories.

This is quite an interesting novel that is not a story but a relation of the process involved in writing one. It is about the failure of memory, the necessity of omitting and rearranging details in order to create a coherent and compelling narrative. The book itself is about breaking all of the rules of writing. There is no plot, no dialogue, no characterization, only vignette after vignette and then revisions of those vignettes as memories resurface and timelines are rearranged. It lacks consistency or pacing and seems to go on too long without understanding that it should have ended already. It somehow manages to fail and succeed simultaneously. I loved it.

( )
  woolgathering | Apr 4, 2017 |
Lydia Davis' novel "The End of the Story" is an okay book, but not something that I would have ever read (or wanted to read) if it wasn't on the 1,001 Books to Read Before You Die" list.

The novel tells the story of an unnamed narrator's obsession with an ex-lover as their relationship slowly crumbles and ends.

Davis has an interesting writing style but I found it didn't really carry the novel through here. I could see the very obvious connections with Proust's work, (and it's pretty ballsy I think to try and write a book that's going to be compared with Proust's masterpiece.) I didn't think Davis' writing was strong enough to carry off a slow moving story like this. ( )
  amerynth | Feb 3, 2017 |
3.5 stars
This is a book about the end of a love affair. The story begins at the end of the narrator’s relationship with a younger man. The narrator also happens to be a writer and she decides to write a book about the ending of this relationship. The book we read is therefore composed of a novel within a novel interspersed with the narrator’s commentary about the process of writing a novel based on this love affair. Themes of reality versus creative process (think Proust), relationships, and love are central to this book.

I liked this book and found the style interesting. The narrator introduces doubt regarding the accuracy of the details of her story by her commentary on the limitations of memory and how memory gets transformed through both emotions and the process of writing. It is a strange experience as a reader to be reading a novel within a novel in which the author/narrator questions the reliability of her own telling of the story (e.g., she questions the chronology of events & the events themselves). In many ways this book reminded me of some of the themes in Proust’s In Search of Lost Time (then afterwards I did some research on the author and learned that she was a translator for Proust’s works). It was most definitely not a fast moving, plot driven book, but certainly an interesting read. Davis does a nice job writing about the complexities involved in the dissolution of a relationship (both parties are responsible, both parties engage in behaviors that are not so positive, etc). But, the most interesting part of the book is the discussion of how experience is transformed by the creative process (our emotions and recall of events changes when we attempt to recreate or retell events).
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  JenPrim | Jan 15, 2016 |
An unnamed woman approaching fifty struggles to complete a novel based on her relationship, fifteen years earlier, with an unnamed man, 12 years her junior, in an unnamed hilly west coast town. She has, in effect, been writing this novel since those heady days, piecing together memories, the sometimes conflicting evidence of letters and phone records, the delicate decisions concerning first-person, third-person, close to reality or completely fictitious. She could, she realizes, keep writing this novel the rest of her life, rearranging the chronology, the emotional fit, the answer she gives to her own questions which she then refutes. Love distended, obsessional yet self-involved. Is this an affair she is describing or the novel writing process itself?

This kind of emotionally distant, hyper-aware, diffident, even obscurantist novel has its own traditions. Davis embraces these and masters them. But perhaps the fact that in a long career this is her only novel may speak to the limitations of the form. Much as one can enjoy the technical brilliance (of which there is a great deal of evidence here), I think it is an open question as to whether such feats advance the form of the novel itself. To the extent that Davis depicts an unhealthy preoccupation, a soul in torment though perhaps self-inflicted, it is a though she achieves this despite the post-modern scaffolding. And that makes you wonder what else she might achieve if she approached the novel directly. For the moment though, this is the novel we have and I have no hesitation recommending it. I just hope it isn’t the end of the story. ( )
  RandyMetcalfe | Nov 13, 2014 |
This is the second Lydia Davis book I've put up for sale this week. Her precise (though imperfect) translation of Swann's Way carries much good will for her in my eyes, but her alleged "gemlike" and "highly-polished" prose does not shine for me. I find it neuraesthenic & gimmicky.

That said, The End of the Story is her attempt at a Proustian novel. The obsessiveness of the unrequited love of the nearly nameless principals; long descriptive sentences standing in for emotional states; the stalkings & endless dependence on gossip with friends; the guilt-tripping; and primarily, her invocation of a cup of tea to both start the novel (i.e., remember things) and end it (having remembered things) --- all Proustian touchpoints.

Since Proust is my all-time favorite writer, I would think that I would think that this is not a bad thing. Indeed, it's a pastiche, an homage, an acquired skill. (Though I think she wrote this before she began her Swann translation.)

And yet I didn't care about anything or anyone in this book & I had no patience with her OCD. (Already have some, thank you.) This is at least partially me; with reading time now a precious commodity, you really have to have me at "Hello" or your work gets skimmed (i.e., every 4th page is read, with options to re-enter, like highway on-ramps). I'm running low on fresh tries for Lydia.

Dana Goodyear's profile on Davis in the current New Yorker made me haul out all my Lydia Davis texts this week.

Q: Is the title invoking the spirit of John Barth's classic The End of the Road?
A: Why not? Steal from the best. ( )
  ReneeGKC | Mar 15, 2014 |
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Lydia Davisprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bergsma, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The last time I saw him, although I did not know it would be the last, I was sitting on the terrace with a friend and he came through the gate sweating, his face and chest pink, his hair damp, and stopped politely to talk to us.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312423713, Paperback)

Mislabeled boxes, problems with visiting nurses, confusing notes, an outing to the county fair--such are the obstacles in the way of the unnamed narrator of The End of the Story as she attempts to organize her memories of a love affair into a novel. With compassion, wit, and what appears to be candor, she seeks to determine what she actually knows about herself and her past, but we begin to suspect, along with her, that given the elusiveness of memory and understanding, any tale retrieved from the past must be fiction.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:43 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A woman attempts to recover from a failed love affair by writing a novel on the subject and finds it a difficult task. The hardest part is the chronology, who did what to whom first. She describes the affair in narrative form, without dialogue, from its happy beginnings--he was good looking, a poet, 12 years her junior--to the sordid finale when she turned to stalking him. By the author of Break It Down.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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