Lydia Davis

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Dear, Lydia. If you ever find this thread I just want to let you know that I love you.

jed_, Tuesday, 21 February 2012 23:07 (seven years ago) link

"In this condition"

Stirred not only by men but by women, fat and thin, naked and clothed; by teenagers and children in latency; by animals such as horses and dogs; by certain vegetables such as carrots, zucchinis, eggplants, and cucumbers; by fruits such as melons, grapefruits, and kiwis; by certain plant parts such as petals, sepals, stamens, and pistils; by the bare arm of a wooden chair, a round vase holding flowers, a little hot sunlight, a plate of pudding, a person entering a tunnel in the distance, a puddle of water, a hand alighting on a smooth stone, a hand alighting on a bare shoulder, a naked tree limb; by anything curved, bare, and shining, as the limb or bole of a tree; by any touch, as the touch of a stranger handling money; by anything round and freely hanging, as tassels on a curtain, as chestnut burrs on a twig in spring, as a wet teabag on its string; by anything glowing, as a hot coal; anything soft or slow, as a cat rising from a chair; anything smooth and dry, as a stone, or warm and glistening; anything sliding, anything sliding back and forth; anything sliding in and out with an oiled surface, as certain machine parts, anything of a certain shape, like the state of Florida; anything pounding, anything stroking; anything bolt upright, anything horizontal and gaping, as a certain sea anemone; anything warm, anything wet, anything wet and red, anything turning red, as the sun at evening; anything wet and pink, anything long and straight with a blunt end, as a pestle; anything coming out of anything else, as a snail from its shell, as a snail’s horns from its head; anything opening; any stream of water running, any stream running, any stream spurting, any stream spouting; any cry, any soft cry, any grunt; anything going into anything else, as a hand searching in a purse; anything clutching, anything grasping; anything rising, anything tightening or filling, as a sail; anything dripping, anything hardening, anything softening.

jed_, Tuesday, 21 February 2012 23:09 (seven years ago) link

tl;dr

Aimless, Tuesday, 21 February 2012 23:10 (seven years ago) link

:D

jed_, Tuesday, 21 February 2012 23:11 (seven years ago) link

“A Double Negative”

At a certain point in her life, she realizes it is not so much that she wants to have a child as that she does not want to not have a child, or not to have had a child.

jed_, Tuesday, 21 February 2012 23:15 (seven years ago) link

"Samuel Johnson Is Indignant:"

that Scotland has so few trees.

desperado, rough rider (thomp), Tuesday, 21 February 2012 23:32 (seven years ago) link

yes she is the best the absolute best

max, Tuesday, 21 February 2012 23:33 (seven years ago) link

"Certain Knowledge from Herodotus"

These are the facts about the fish in the Nile:

desperado, rough rider (thomp), Tuesday, 21 February 2012 23:33 (seven years ago) link

My Mother's Reaction to My Travel Plans

Gainsville! It's too bad your cousin is dead!

max, Tuesday, 21 February 2012 23:35 (seven years ago) link

i. i bought her collected short stories for v little money recently and got it dirty before i ever opened it and let it languish for a while because i was sad about that

ii. opening it now, it turns out there is only one collection of hers i have yet to read

iii. bah

desperado, rough rider (thomp), Tuesday, 21 February 2012 23:36 (seven years ago) link

i love the cover design for her collected stories but i hate that thing they do with the pages where they dont cut them and theyre a pain to flip through

max, Tuesday, 21 February 2012 23:37 (seven years ago) link

hey guys if we have a 'best lydia davis short story collection' poll do u think ppl will vote

desperado, rough rider (thomp), Tuesday, 21 February 2012 23:39 (seven years ago) link

it will be like the action film poll, only almost exactly not like the action film poll

desperado, rough rider (thomp), Tuesday, 21 February 2012 23:39 (seven years ago) link

"Separate Bedrooms"

They have moved into separate bedrooms now.
That night she dreams she is holding him in her arms. He dreams he is having dinner with Ben Jonson.

desperado, rough rider (thomp), Tuesday, 21 February 2012 23:40 (seven years ago) link

thanks so much for those, jed, the first particularly, they're gorgeous; i've read a little lydia davis, & bought break it down for friends keen on short stories, but i really ought to read her properly. is anyone as keen on any of the novels as they are her shortform stuff? me and my friend need a book club book.

john-claude van donne (schlump), Tuesday, 21 February 2012 23:42 (seven years ago) link

she just has one novel iirc, i have it but have never read it

max, Tuesday, 21 February 2012 23:42 (seven years ago) link

"Money"

I don't want any more gifts, cards, phone calls, prizes, clothes, friends, letters, books, souvenirs, pets, magazines, land, machines, houses, entertainments, honors, good news, dinners, jewels, vacations, flowers or telegrams. I just want money.

"Acknowledgement"

I have only to add
that the plates in the present volume
have been carefully re-etched
by Mr. Cuff.

desperado, rough rider (thomp), Tuesday, 21 February 2012 23:42 (seven years ago) link

her novel is tao lin's favorite novel, now try and read it

desperado, rough rider (thomp), Tuesday, 21 February 2012 23:43 (seven years ago) link

she just has one novel iirc, i have it but have never read it

― max, Tuesday, 21 February 2012 23:42 (3 minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

ty. i was thinking of you when her name came up actually, i really want to read chris kraus' i love dick & i think there is an old ilx post in which you enthuse about that & a davis book. my library's got collected stories, so i'm going to pick it up tomorrow.

my friend liked her flaubert translation, also.

xp but tao lin also liked richard yates & the sixth sense though, right, so

john-claude van donne (schlump), Tuesday, 21 February 2012 23:47 (seven years ago) link

The best for one-liners, but she can also cut a mean paragraph, as on her translation of Proust.

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 21 February 2012 23:49 (seven years ago) link

huh, i havent thought about chris kraus in a long time! i still love lydia davis. while were talking about academic-y woman writers who defy genre tags, i am reading anne carson's glass irony and god right now

max, Tuesday, 21 February 2012 23:50 (seven years ago) link

i don't know her, i will look her up. i guess this is a scene; i just read & loved eileen myles' inferno, in which kraus & a zillion other people figure peripherally, & have been photocopying pages from it to inflict on people. i think there's a piece on CK in the new n+1 also.

john-claude van donne (schlump), Tuesday, 21 February 2012 23:55 (seven years ago) link

part of the reason for starting this thread is so i could ask people to explain particular stories. so can someone tell me about "samuel johnson is indignant"? i don't get it. but she makes me love not getting it so i don't care too much.

"Samuel Johnson Is Indignant:"

that Scotland has so few trees.

jed_, Tuesday, 21 February 2012 23:56 (seven years ago) link

"A double Negative" is alarming. they way she sketches the life of a woman around that one sentence? breathtaking.

"In this condition", curiously, is one that brought me to the verge of tears.

jed_, Tuesday, 21 February 2012 23:58 (seven years ago) link

one of a few displays of her reducing what she does with found texts elsewhere to a deliberately ridiculous minimum, i have been mainly quoting this sort of thing bcz someone said 'tl:dr' and it is quite quick to type these, actually i prefer her writing longer things

desperado, rough rider (thomp), Tuesday, 21 February 2012 23:59 (seven years ago) link

okay there aren't many trees in the Hebrides but what else?

jed_, Tuesday, 21 February 2012 23:59 (seven years ago) link

actually i prefer her writing longer things

on the whole, me too.

jed_, Wednesday, 22 February 2012 00:00 (seven years ago) link

almost no memory > samuel johnson is indignant > the end of the story >>> varieties of disturbance,

i think. haven't read 'break it down', which is the first one. nor have i read her bovary, nor her proust.

xp i don't know there's much more to it! other than: i have read this and had a reaction to it, and here i am presenting it as a thing which is not a part of a longer text

desperado, rough rider (thomp), Wednesday, 22 February 2012 00:02 (seven years ago) link

it is funny that samuel johnson is annoyed by a lack of trees

it is funny that there is a book which is a part of the canon or a thing which if not part of it stands by it and in relation to it in which space is devoted to samuel johnson being annoyed by scotland not having enough trees

it is funny that the funniness of this can stand alone / it is a funny idea to pretend it can stand alone and give it its own title, when it is blatantly a pointless fact

desperado, rough rider (thomp), Wednesday, 22 February 2012 00:04 (seven years ago) link

thanks thomp.

I've read her proust! but that's as far as i got with him.

jed_, Wednesday, 22 February 2012 00:05 (seven years ago) link

it's a reduction of what she is doing with 'historical fiction' in smth like 'lord royston's tour', i guess -- here are all these maybe details marooned in the past, and which can be reanimated in fiction

which fits into her larger concerns about (blech ...) memory and language and writing

desperado, rough rider (thomp), Wednesday, 22 February 2012 00:07 (seven years ago) link

"Happiest Moment"

If you ask her what is a favorite story she has written, she will hesitate for a long time and then say it may be this story that she read in a book once: an English-language teacher in China asked his Chinese student to say what was the happiest moment in his life. The student hesitated for a long time. At last he smiled with embarrassment and said that his wife had once gone to Beijing and eaten duck there, and she often told him about it, and he would have to say that the happiest moment of his life was her trip, and the eating of the duck.

desperado, rough rider (thomp), Wednesday, 22 February 2012 00:09 (seven years ago) link

really like that one

the "intenterface" (difficult listening hour), Wednesday, 22 February 2012 00:12 (seven years ago) link

heh, nabisco used that story in another thread to try and teach shakey mo about fiction

it didnt work very well

max, Wednesday, 22 February 2012 00:57 (seven years ago) link

(btw i dont mean to hijack the thread but schlump anne carson is great and i really love her and just bought her translation of euripides and am v excited to read it)

max, Wednesday, 22 February 2012 00:58 (seven years ago) link

Anne Carson is my favorite contemporary poet; her Bronte thing was fantastic -- in every sense.

Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 22 February 2012 01:00 (seven years ago) link

yeah i was just googling around, she sounds v interesting; the text of the glass poem in yr book is online here but i might get the husbandsy epic poem one that my library has, first. i have a two-man book club with my friend, she maybe fills a space, i am really already sold by EPIC POEM OF RELATIONSHIP DECLINE, which keeps coming up.

just to re-rail back to lydia davis, thomp, break it down's really the only one i've read much of, & i liked it a lot - it's claustrophobic and lonesome and sharp edged. just in case it's fear that it will be not so great/is first book-ish, rather than anything else that's held you back.

john-claude van donne (schlump), Wednesday, 22 February 2012 01:02 (seven years ago) link

oh lord i love lydia davis and i only found out about her from ilx quite recently, possibly in that thread where nabisco was trying to teach shakey mo about fiction.

i keep buying her collected short stories for people in hope of finding someone else who will love her. in fact it is my cousin's birthday on thursday, so maybe i will buy another copy of the collected short stories for her. i don't think she really reads fiction but i feel like she might look in the book by accident and find something she likes, maybe.

inspector george gentlyfallingblood (c sharp major), Wednesday, 22 February 2012 01:22 (seven years ago) link

My only digressive link here I swear, Taking a break from the Anne Carson Glass Essay link above to mention this is pretty amazing (writers get so exhilarated when they get public attention while talking to a friend about writing instead of writing)
http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/5420/the-art-of-poetry-no-88-anne-carson

dow, Wednesday, 22 February 2012 01:32 (seven years ago) link

thread where nabisco was trying to teach shakey mo

lol i half-remember this? anyway

did anyone else read samuel delany's paris review interview? it has the most depressing opening ever:

"Between the time you were nineteen and your twenty-second birthday, you wrote and sold five novels, and another four by the time you were twenty-six, plus a volume of short stories. Fifty years later, considerably more than half that work is still in print. Was being a prodigy important to you?"

desperado, rough rider (thomp), Wednesday, 22 February 2012 09:23 (seven years ago) link

haha that is the 3rd time on ilx that story's been written out, i remember nabisco talking about it and then it was also on another thread im sure. anyway its beautiful

just sayin, Wednesday, 22 February 2012 09:51 (seven years ago) link

I feel like I should read Lydia Davis. She translated Maurice Blanchot and Michel Leiris who are two of my favorite authors. She even tackled Swan's Way. I read upthread that she has longer works? Where should I start?

JacobSanders, Wednesday, 22 February 2012 10:37 (seven years ago) link

The collection Break It Down is a great place to start. (Most or all of it is reprinted in her Collected Stories.) Her novel, The End of the Story, is good but not the place to start.

You could also just start by hearing her read/talk in this Bookworm interview.

Fonz Hour (Eazy), Wednesday, 22 February 2012 14:56 (seven years ago) link

i keep buying her collected short stories for people

I have bought two copies so far and am about to buy another.

jed_, Wednesday, 22 February 2012 15:09 (seven years ago) link

“Example of the Continuing Past Tense in a Hotel Room”

Your housekeeper has been Shelly.

jed_, Wednesday, 22 February 2012 15:36 (seven years ago) link

i read this thread last night and then i bought the kindle version of collected stories and then i read her for hours and didn't get nearly enough sleep but today i am much too thrilled to feel tired.

estela, Wednesday, 22 February 2012 21:19 (seven years ago) link

estela i kind of cant believe youd never read lydia davis before!

max, Wednesday, 22 February 2012 21:22 (seven years ago) link

thankyou!

estela, Wednesday, 22 February 2012 21:24 (seven years ago) link

haha

horseshoe, Wednesday, 22 February 2012 21:30 (seven years ago) link

Hopefully there will be a podcast of this event.

She's done some good interviews recently that are available online -- WNYC Leonard Lopate; KCRW Bookworm.

the one where, as balls alludes (Eazy), Monday, 18 August 2014 23:05 (five years ago) link

two weeks pass...

seems like something i would like. is almost no memory what i want? i found this because i just read i love dick and it's mentioned in this thread.

flatizza (harbl), Sunday, 7 September 2014 00:12 (five years ago) link

I prefer 'Samuel Johnson ..' but that's 50% because I read it first

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Sunday, 7 September 2014 05:42 (five years ago) link

or at least because of all the things i read as a teenager in an attempt to be cool its the one i would be least tempted to dismiss today and to me at least that counts for something

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Sunday, 7 September 2014 06:32 (five years ago) link

six months pass...

She can read in Norwegian!

tick.jpg

xyzzzz__, Saturday, 4 April 2015 16:30 (four years ago) link

i downloaded the big orange complete stories thing onto my phone and read it during brief idle moments like waiting for a bus or in a boring class. a+ recommended

flopson, Saturday, 4 April 2015 16:45 (four years ago) link

i downloaded the big orange complete stories thing onto my phone. I read it during brief idle moments like waiting for a bus or in a boring class. Or I read the book on my phone. We read books on phones and sometimes these phones are orange but not big. A+ recommended.

guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 4 April 2015 16:50 (four years ago) link

thanks alfred

flopson, Saturday, 4 April 2015 18:13 (four years ago) link

it needs a title

guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 4 April 2015 18:28 (four years ago) link

http://lithub.com/lydia-davis-at-the-end-of-the-world/

j., Wednesday, 8 April 2015 17:08 (four years ago) link

The big orange short story collection (textured paper! rough pages!!) was my first encounter with her as anything other than an excellent translator & I foolishly sold it when money was tight because I knew I could get 5 bucks for it easy :/

bernard snowy, Thursday, 9 April 2015 16:43 (four years ago) link

one year passes...

i was in a really bad/weird mood last week and i couldn't read her. got so impatient and annoyed. that ever happen to you? not with her maybe, but with someone you ordinarily like? she felt so precious all of a sudden. and i'm usually so impressed when someone can maintain that same tone page after page but last week it was driving me up a wall. in my head i was shouting: she's the rich man's richard brautigan!

but it'll pass.

scott seward, Saturday, 20 August 2016 20:18 (three years ago) link

My friend basically got the hives from reading "the grouch and old mother" and was furious at me for recommending it.

Although this friend is also someone who's always telling other people what they shouldn't be eating and why not, which is one topic of that story and a recurring topic in Davis's stories.

Acting Crazy (Instrumental) (jed_), Saturday, 20 August 2016 22:04 (three years ago) link

one year passes...

That book of letters is OK. But it doesn't deliver the comedy of a noise-maddened Proust I was hoping for. I did like the way he'll go on for pages about some fabric or whatever, but mentions in one sentence that he no longer has a secretary because the guy fell out of a plane into the sea, and offers no further details.

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Tuesday, 14 November 2017 03:44 (two years ago) link

one year passes...

'ESSAYS' next -- later this year. The best of her essays on Reading & Writing, beginning with 'A Beloved Duck Gets Cooked: Forms & Influences I'

— Simon Prosser (@HamishH1931) March 1, 2019

xyzzzz__, Friday, 1 March 2019 18:01 (eight months ago) link

seven months pass...

Nearly here:

https://us.macmillan.com/books/9780374148850

xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 16 October 2019 14:30 (one month ago) link

Have not yet connected with her own stories, but love her translation of Swann's Way---can't read French, haven't read previous translations, but as a stand-alone experience, it's amazing.

dow, Wednesday, 16 October 2019 16:31 (one month ago) link

otm, i switched to her translation halfway through reading another mustier one and the difference was shocking

flopson, Wednesday, 16 October 2019 18:27 (one month ago) link

sry i did that for madame bovary

flopson, Wednesday, 16 October 2019 18:28 (one month ago) link

also i love her short stories

flopson, Wednesday, 16 October 2019 18:28 (one month ago) link

What I've read of her criticism has been really great. Her tastes in lit are very similar to mine too.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 17 October 2019 14:39 (one month ago) link

have you ever read joy williams?

plax (ico), Thursday, 17 October 2019 17:09 (one month ago) link

they may not be as similar as I sometimes think because I read them at the same time. Joy Williams is quite gothic.

plax (ico), Thursday, 17 October 2019 17:10 (one month ago) link

i love joy williams. she should be hipper imo, it's really hard to find her books

flopson, Thursday, 17 October 2019 17:37 (one month ago) link

she's kinda the anti-Lydia Davis tho lol

flopson, Thursday, 17 October 2019 17:37 (one month ago) link

Yeah I guess, but they are both really interested in dreams and dream interpretations and they both have a large interest in gaps and ommissions.

plax (ico), Thursday, 17 October 2019 19:09 (one month ago) link

I will check Joy Williams out, thanks!

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 17 October 2019 21:47 (one month ago) link

it's been a while since i've read either and there was a long gap between reading them so don't remember too specifics, but just in terms of prose style williams' sentences are so knotty long and wild whereas davis' are immaculate short and cute

flopson, Thursday, 17 October 2019 22:01 (one month ago) link

I was so into Gordon Lish's baroque-ification of Carver's posthumous collection Cathedral that I followed up with other authors he edited, this was my intro to Williams. She's great, I read a collection of hers in a couple of days

i could chug a keg of you (flamboyant goon tie included), Thursday, 17 October 2019 23:21 (one month ago) link

Sorry, what's Williams' connection to Carver?

What a ridiculous clusterfuck of totally uncool jokers (jed_), Thursday, 17 October 2019 23:55 (one month ago) link

Oh, they have/had the same editor?

What a ridiculous clusterfuck of totally uncool jokers (jed_), Thursday, 17 October 2019 23:55 (one month ago) link

The big orange short story collection (textured paper! rough pages!!) was my first encounter with her as anything other than an excellent translator & I foolishly sold it when money was tight because I knew I could get 5 bucks for it easy :/

I've been there, too. it is hard to shake the regrets. it can take a decade or more of quietly mourning for the loss. (sighs)

A is for (Aimless), Friday, 18 October 2019 00:07 (one month ago) link

it’s still in print. i can buy you a copy if u want bro

flopson, Saturday, 19 October 2019 15:03 (four weeks ago) link

lol

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 19 October 2019 15:05 (four weeks ago) link

The original paperback collections I bought for a buck apiece

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 19 October 2019 15:05 (four weeks ago) link

xyzzzz u r herne hill right? i'm leaving on wednesday (moving to islington) and discovered I have two copies of joy williams escapes if u want one? otherwise its going to oxfam. not sure how i'd get it to you i guess dm me if ur interested.

plax (ico), Sunday, 27 October 2019 20:22 (three weeks ago) link

Hi plz indeed I am. Let me try and DM you my address now

xyzzzz__, Monday, 28 October 2019 10:22 (three weeks ago) link

*plax

xyzzzz__, Monday, 28 October 2019 10:22 (three weeks ago) link

Just did it now, did you get it.

xyzzzz__, Monday, 28 October 2019 10:25 (three weeks ago) link

got it!

plax (ico), Monday, 28 October 2019 11:26 (three weeks ago) link

Thanks 👍

xyzzzz__, Monday, 28 October 2019 11:47 (three weeks ago) link

my pleasure. hope you enjoy it. I read an interview with her once where she said something about how her difficulty with writing dialogue was solved when she realised that she could make her characters say whatever she wanted them to. it might have been in her paris review interview which is very good and worth reading. I think she is very good, honored guest is the collection I like the most and escapes is patchier but the good stories are very good and there's a couple that I have read more than several times.

plax (ico), Monday, 28 October 2019 13:00 (three weeks ago) link

👏👏👏

xyzzzz__, Monday, 28 October 2019 13:59 (three weeks ago) link

two weeks pass...

Omg did you get this?

plax (ico), Saturday, 16 November 2019 01:28 (two days ago) link

Hey plax sorry should've updated. Yes thank you v much for this. Hope the move went well.

xyzzzz__, Saturday, 16 November 2019 15:47 (two days ago) link

Lol, I don't know why this suddenly seemed urgent late last night!

plax (ico), Saturday, 16 November 2019 16:35 (two days ago) link

Hope you enjoy it

plax (ico), Saturday, 16 November 2019 16:35 (two days ago) link

essays 1 is incredible. i read the ‘lydias tips for writing’ one last night

flopson, Saturday, 16 November 2019 19:16 (two days ago) link


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