Friday, June 18, 2010

Lydia Davis, The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis

Lydia Davis, The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis
Farrar Staus and Giroux, 2009
733 pages is an awful lot of Lydia Davis. When this book arrived I thought, will I ever want to read Lydia Davis again, when I'm done with this book?

I was a student in one of those MFA Creative Writing programs no one can disparage enough. In the late 90s they were pretty much workshops for the creation of Lydia Davis imitations. A few of these, too, read like Lydia Davis imitations. Occasionally I feel like the victim of a confidence trick, like, would it all seem so profound, if the spine didn't say 'Farrar, Straus and Giroux'?

And yet -- I would read ten more volumes of Lydia Davis, each the size of this one. Her stories are a very special and quiet kind of music, which makes you listen to everything differently. The stories work because Lydia Davis somehow smuggles me into a slightly different consciousness, the one next door, the one I sense when I've had one strong cup of coffee too many, and feel the meaning of life is slowly being revealed to me, in the form of a code contained in the very most minor events of my life.

Lydia Davis inspires a very special kind of attention, like a day spent in silence. This book is a good chance to be entirely caught up in that familiar and strange light.

No comments: