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.