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The collected stories of Lydia Davis (2009)

by Lydia Davis

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5071420,055 (4.2)23
  1. 00
    Winter Journal by Paul Auster (JuliaMaria)
    JuliaMaria: Lydia Davis war die erste Ehefrau von Paul Auster. In seinen Memoiren beschreibt er auch die Zeit mit ihr, wenn er auch ihren Namen nicht explizit nennt.
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Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Lydia Davis is a short story writer. She was awarded the Man Booker International prize in 2013.

She from her writing seems to be a middle aged woman recently divorced with identity issues. Her writing is easy going but story after story on similar themes of loneliness are tedious.

I left this book a quarter way in and I will congratulate anyone who can read Lydia Davis at one go. These stories can be consumed only in short bursts according to me. ( )
  mausergem | Jul 22, 2014 |
This is a lot of Lydia Davis. If you choose to read this volume (at 700 pages), rather than starting with one of her individual story collections, I'd advise taking it in small bits, while mixing in some other reading. Lydia Davis has been praised for her innovation in redefining what a 'story' can be. To say her stories are nontraditional would be stating the obvious. They range in length from one sentence to a more usual 10-15 pages. However, those latter are rare. I'd say the average is 2-3 pages. Many consist of a single paragraph. Some read like journal entries, while others read like clinical observations of domestic life. Certain ones appear to be the sort of notes you jot down in your writer's notebook, like half-formed ideas or short bursts of inspiration. Over time Davis's voice emerges and you settle in for the long haul. Her humor is subtle yet clever. It often appears out of nowhere. One story, 'Kafka Cooks Dinner', made me smile and chuckle the whole way through; however, this kind of humor would probably be lost or at least tempered on someone who hasn't read Kafka's writing at more than a cursory level. A lot of Davis's material reads like it's been mined straight from her own life, but this could merely be due to the straightforwardness of her prose. What I find interesting is that there is clear evidence in here that Davis is capable of quite deftly spinning a traditional narrative when she chooses to, although it's when she's toying with structure that she seems most in her element. Recommended for fans of Amy Hempel and other Gordon Lish mentees, as well as anyone else interested in having their understanding of the short story form shattered to bits. ( )
  S.D. | Apr 5, 2014 |
Love her translation of Swann's Way, but these teeny stories, while meticulously honed, remind me of nothing so much as jottings I used to make in my "Writing Ideas" notebook. Sorry, Lydia. {The physical book is a beauty.}

Nice profile in current New Yorker: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2014/03/17/140317fa_fact_goodyear ( )
  ReneeGKC | Mar 12, 2014 |
These stories are long on ideas and word choice, and they're short on plot. Her writing reminded me of a lot of things at different points, from Amy Hempel to Borges. Occasionally I'd read something that just struck me as so hilarious or so true, but sometimes I felt bored or uninterested. Overall, though, I approve.

The physical volume is very handsome--I wish there were more books that looked like this one. ( )
  thatotter | Feb 6, 2014 |
Ion Trewin, Literary Director of the Booker Prize Foundation, explains the idea behind the Booker Prizes on the official website. He wrote, "From the very beginning of what was originally called the Booker Prize there was just one criterion - the prize would be for 'the best novel in the opinion of the judges'. The aim was to increase the reading of quality fiction and ... The real success will be a significant increase in the sales of the winning book.” As my readers know I have mentioned several times, the Booker prize represents the best fiction written in English today since 1969. The International prize began in 2004 and is awarded every other year – not for an individual title, but for a body of work. The winners include Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe, Canadian short story writer Alice Munro, and American novelist, Philip Roth. The winner for 2013 is another American, short story writer Lydia Davis.

The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis total 298 on well over 700 pages. Some of the stories are as short as a few lines, which evidences her creativity and desire to break new ground in the venerable genre stretching back well over 100 years. Not a book to be read in a sitting, but rather wandered through like a museum, stopping here and there to take in a particularly artful piece.

I hardly read any of the stories I did not like, but rather I sipped and enjoyed even the shortest pieces like a glass of fine Bordeaux. Here is an example of one of these short-short stories, titled “The Fish Tank,” “I star at four fish in a tank in the supermarket. They are swimming in parallel formation against a small current created by a jet of water, and they are opening their mouths and staring off into the distance with the one eye, each, that I can see. As I watch them through the class, thinking how fresh they would be to eat, still alive now, and calculating whether I might buy one to cook for dinner, I also see, as though behind or through them, a larger, shadowy form darkening their tank, what there is of me on the glass, their predator” (172).

Most of the stories deal with ordinary people facing life’s difficulties and joys, getting by day to day. Others seem to be sketches prepared while outlining a story. Here is the beginning of “The Center of the Story”: A woman has written a story that has a hurricane in it, and a hurricane usually promises to be interesting. But in this story the hurricane threatens the city without actually striking it. The story is flat and eben, just as the earth seems flat and even when a hurricane is advancing over it, and if she were to show it to a friend, the friend would probably say that, unlike a hurricane, this story has no center” (173).

But my favorite is “French Lesson I: Le Meurtre”: “See the vaches ambling up the hill, head to rump, head to rump. Learn what a vache is. A vache is milked in the morning, and milked again in the evening, twitching her dung-soaked tail, her head in a stanchion” (103). Clever and creative.

I have always loved short stories, and The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis has shot to the top of my favorites list. Take a sip of Lydia Davis’ work, and you will have many hours of enjoyment. 5 stars ( )
1 vote rmckeown | Oct 13, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Davis approaches the short-story form with jazzy experimentation, tinkering with lists, circumlocutions, even interviews where the questions have been creepily edited out. You don’t work your way across this mesa-sized collection so much as pogo-stick about, plunging in wherever the springs meet the page.
 
With the publication of this big book... Davis might well receive the kind of notice she's long been due. She is the funniest writer I know; the unique pleasure of her wit resides in its being both mordant and beautifully sorrowful
 
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I kept tripping on the street and walking into walls. Everything I said made me want to laugh. But near the end of the hour I was also telling him how face-to-face with another person I couldn't speak. There was always a wall. "Is there a wall between you and me now?" he would ask. No, there was no wall there anymore.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374270600, Hardcover)

Lydia Davis is one of our most original and influential writers. She has been called “an American virtuoso of the short story form” (Salon) and “one of the quiet giants . . . of American fiction” (Los Angeles Times Book Review). Now, for the first time, Davis’s short stories will be collected in one volume, from the groundbreaking Break It Down (1986) to the 2007 National Book Award nominee Varieties of Disturbance.

The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis is an event in American letters.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:46:45 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"Lydia Davis is one of our most original and influential writers, a storyteller celebrated for her emotional acuity, her formal inventiveness, and her ability to capture the mind in overdrive...This volume contains all her stories to date, from the acclaimed 'Break it down' (1986) to the 2007 National Book Award finalist 'Varieties of Disturbance'."--Front flap.… (more)

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Penguin Australia

Two editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 024114504X, 0241950031

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