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Christopher Ricks on Lydia Davis

From an article in the Times Literary Supplement
Lydia Davis (Source)
From Christopher Ricks (TLS):
Lydia Davis was born in 1947 in Northampton, Massachusetts. Among her volumes of fiction there is a novel, The End of the Story (1995). The beginning of the story – of the stories – is now taken by her and her publishers to be Break It Down (1986), followed by Almost No Memory (1997), Samuel Johnson Is Indignant (2001), and Varieties of Disturbance (2007). These constitute The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis, more than 700 pages, 200 writings, the shortest a sentence or even less, the longest about forty pages. Writings, because just how to characterize them is to the point (at first, anyway), and has its power to intrigue. They fling their lithe arms wide to embrace many a kind. Should we simply concur with the official title and dub them stories? Or perhaps miniatures? Anecdotes? Essays? Jokes? Parables? Fables? Texts, or in the Beckett idiom, textes? Aphorisms, or even apophthegms? Prayers, or perhaps wisdom literature? Or might we settle for observations? This last, in the double sense of T. S. Eliot’s first book, Prufrock and Other Observations, where “observations” are the claims both of the perceptive eye and of the wise mind, both the remarkings and the remarks. Lydia Davis herself, in an interview: “I am very curious about strangers I observe – as in a bus line”. [Read More]

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