Sunday, April 27, 2014

"The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis" a review

ISBN: 978-0-312-65539-6

A book that took me forever to read, not due to its content (I don't think), but more by design.   I tend to read short story collections very slowly, and almost not wanting to finish them.  I think I read 80% of "The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis" in the bathtub.   So if I take a bath everyday, how many baths is that?   Nevertheless it will not have anything to do with Davis' writings, which are precise, focused, and not one wasted word.  In other words, they're sort of perfection in practice.   

There is no narration to speak of, but more of either a snapshot of a series of moments taking place, or observing something both remarkable and unremarkable.   When I read this collection, my first thought is "wow, this is a real writer."   There is something almost scientific in the way she constructs her works, which I think is quite musical.  I never heard her read her stories in public, but I imagine it would be a performance where you have to pace yourself, and allow a certain amount of silence to come in and out.    People have gone on about the length of her stories, but I don't that itself is important.  That is kind of like looking at the tree instead of the forest type of issue.  When you look at the whole book, it is very much a maximum wide-scope 70mm film, but focusing on small moments, that more likely will lead to something larger or life-changing.   It's funny, recently I have been reading off and on Wittgenstein, and either I'm imagining all of this, but I see a connection between his writing and her writing.  Maybe they're not meaning the same thing, but there is concern, or the ability to use text as sculpture of some sort.  It is not restricted to writing, but it is also craving or shaving off the excess to make the statement or the words more maximum.   I can't imagine anyone who is a writer would not be interested in Lydia Davis' stories.   Such a mega-importance to have in one's house or in their hands. 

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