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The End of the Story

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  883 ratings  ·  129 reviews
Mislabeled boxes, problems with visiting nurses, confusing notes, an outing to the county fair--such are the obstacles in the way of the unnamed narrator of The End of the Story as she attempts to organize her memories of a love affair into a novel. With compassion, wit, and what appears to be candor, she seeks to determine what she actually knows about herself and her pas ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published July 1st 2004 by Picador (first published December 1st 1994)
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Three Strong Women by Marie NDiayeGilead by Marilynne RobinsonSamuel Johnson Is Indignant by Lydia DavisInfidelities by Josip NovakovichThe Cows by Lydia Davis
2013 Man Booker International Finalists
11th out of 97 books — 9 voters
Gone Girl by Gillian FlynnThe Complete Essex County by Jeff LemireForgive Me If I've Told You This Before by Karelia Stetz-WatersLet's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David SedarisThe Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil
SKQ Reads
28th out of 104 books — 14 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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K.D. Absolutely
Jan 10, 2012 K.D. Absolutely rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2004-2010)
There is some kind of style in this book that made me like it. That style is strange and I did not know how Davis was able to walk away with it.

(1) No plot
(2) No dialogues
(3) Started the 1st person narration ("unreliable") with the ending of the story
(4) Time period went back and forth with no pattern
(5) Unnecessary characters, events, musings

It’s an endless recollection of the unnamed narration’s failed love story with a man 12 years her senior. The narrator is a college literature professor an
...more
Ryan
One of the few books I come back to over and over again. I have never read anything quite like this nearly plotless, dialogue-less book detailing the slow decline of a relationship. The tone is hauntingly lonely and there is never a question about where the narrative is headed, but the observations are so smart and the sentences so well-crafted that I highly recommend this book to those interested in reading about the small nuances of desperate, yet honest love.
Laura
Fuck.

That's really all I can say.
Jim Elkins
(This review was originally on Amazon. Then, when Amazon seemed big and impersonal and no one read anyone else's reviews, I put it on LibraryThing. Then, when LibraryThing got big and remained wonderfully impersonal and one one read anyone else's reviews, I put it on Goodreads.)

This is an astonishing novel. I have more or less given up writing reviews for Amazon, because (as Nicholson Baker points out) they don't seem to add to anything or create any kind of community, they just sink into the ge
...more
Rand
Jun 09, 2014 Rand rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: the sea
Recommended to Rand by: the river
I always cry at endings.

This is the way in which we learn to let go while holding on .

Because when loss lessens us to the point that love's lessons leave us spent, less is more. Sometimes it takes a certain sort of numbness—time, work, drugs, sleep, food— to know how to begin to feel again.

Because there are parts of the heartwhich are always crying and that is the fountain of compassion.

Sold this book because I thought some other thing would take my mind off of that which this book elapses. Did
...more
S.B.
Sep 06, 2011 S.B. rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: age-disparate relationships
It seems like every sentence in this book was carefully constructed to convey the maximum amount of sadness any person has ever felt in the history of people feeling sad. I tried reading this once before and couldn't get past the whole 'story about writing a story' thing and Davis's style of writing was so extremely different than what I'm used to that I put it away for later when I could appreciate it. This time, I found it just as difficult and demanding and, at times, unfathomably boring as i ...more
M. Sarki
I made it more than half way through this basic retread of some short stories Lydia Davis has previously written and published. Seems she writes a bit here and there about a boy and her relationship and perhaps a bit more about a girl and her relationship and sometimes about both of them and her relationship with them all and by the time I get to where I am I am so tired and too tired of reading this boring tale of nothing. Ray Johnson, the artist, whose last act was a performance piece in which ...more
Christina Marie Rau
How much do I adore Lydia Davis? I like her writing because no one is able to categorize it. Sometimes a work of hers that appears in a prose magazine will also appear in a poetry magazine--the same exact piece of writing. I love that. Some libraries list her stuff as personal essays while others have it in the fiction section.

The End Of The Story is definitely a novel. I know that because the narrator keeps referring to what she's writing as a novel and the novel she's writing is the novel I w
...more
Nathanial
Oct 04, 2007 Nathanial rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ponderous pontificators
Shelves: fiction
just because. just because the sentences don't end, like the landscapes. because the mix of how she moves from thoughts to deeds, place to past, memories to wish. it doesn't have to be that way, the words we said didn't have to be the words we said, the way he carries his shoulders and head don't begin to describe the longing that resides inside, when the sound of a whisker scratches the surface of a page he's reading in the back room, where kitchen tiles stack on the paint-spattered counter and ...more
Laura
I admire what the author did with this book and the way she captured the challenge of processing memories after the fact, of trying to reconstruct a logical timeline of events as they actually occurred, not how we have come to believe they happened or how we wish they had happened. It was definitely a unique book and was worth reading for that alone. However, the story itself just never grabbed my interest and I never felt at all invested in the characters or their actions, so in the end this bo ...more
Roberta
Non ricordo esattamente perché avevo The End of the Story di Lydia Davis nella mia wishlist, e devo ammettere che non è esattamente il mio genere di libro. The End of the Story parla di una storia d'amore, o meglio, della sua fine, come capiamo già dal titolo e come la protagonista ci racconta fin dalle prime pagine, avendo deciso di raccontare per prima proprio la fine, o meglio, un evento che per lei ha rappresentato la fine della storia:

This seemed to be the end of the story, and for a while
...more
Emily
Sep 01, 2011 Emily added it
Shelves: read-in-2011
As a break from the theoretical turn Evening All Afternoon has been taking of late, let me rhapsodize straightforwardly about the numerous things I love in the writing of Lydia Davis. In particular, I've just finished her 2004 The End of the Story, which treats of the end, beginning, and aftermath (in that order) of a love affair, and also of the process of transforming that love affair into a novel.

I was particularly intrigued to pick up Davis's novel, as her stories tend to the radically succ
...more
Kelly
I had a really hard time getting through this small book. I like Lydia Davis, and I respect her a lot as a writer. That's why I'm not giving this book 1 star. I felt like for all of the time she described organizing her thoughts, this was a disorganized mess of rambling. It was not only a story about her failed relationship with someone who was not right for her, whom she didn't much care for until he left her, but also the story of her writing the story. I wanted to care, but I couldn't make my ...more
Jamie
Stephen told me the other day I wasn’t a sensitive person and I was all, “Yes I am,” confusing ‘sensitive’ with ‘perceptive’ and ‘thoughtful’ and then started adding, “Just because I’m not going to sit around and blah blah blah feelings all day and cry over puppies and care about things that are just stupid and,” needless to say he was all, “Point proven.” I guess this furthers his cause, as some of the sentences were stabbingly beautiful and I’m always interested in the exploration of faulty me ...more
Karen
I'm giving this a three because it is a difficult book to like, but an important book to love because here Davis fearlessly confronts the process of resurrecting narrative from our emotional past. It's a dissection, really, of the mind's attempt to make linear sense of the heart, the arm's length of what we call love, the deeper romance of despair. Important for anyone who thinks they write nonfiction, or who thinks they write fiction, or who thinks.
Adam
.
Emilia
Eh...

Another reason, maybe even more important, is that this cup of tea, prepared for me by a stranger to give me some relief from my exhaustion, was not only a gesture of kindness, from a person who could not know what my trouble was, but also a ceremonial act, as though the offer of a cup of tea became a ceremonial act as soon as there was a reason for ceremony, even if the tea was cheap and bitter, with a paper tab hanging over the side of the mug. And since all along there had been too many
...more
Zach
1. Who would have guessed that an overly self-conscious novel about a self-conscious character/narrator/author writing a novel about the self-conscious remembrance of a failed love affair would be boring and eye-roll-worthy and self-involved? Just kidding, anyone could have guessed that.

2. A quote: Vincent (husband of the unnamed narrator [whose name is presumably Lydia Davis... it's that kind of book:] in the portion of the story in which this novel is being written, you follow?) happens to be
...more
Alvin
Ugh, this novel is a slog. Its a completely unromantic deconstruction of an affair between a woman academic in her thirties and some twenty-something grad student. There are a few amazingly insightful looks into the machinations of the love-sick mind, but I didn't care about any of the characters, there was no plot to speak of, and the prose read like something from a dry and especially tedious court depostion. I love Lydia Davis's short-shorts, but this was unpleasant.
Kirsten
Lydia Davis' prose is so droll in such an endearing way, and this novel is no exception. What becomes so precious to you, once you've settled into the cadence and what seems at first to be a fluttery, disoriented flight path of thought, starts to become familiar - familiar in the same sense that being mired in our own thoughts and bias toward ourselves is.

This novel, which alights and lands on the genesis and dissolution of a romantic relationship that was not even so fully formed to begin with,
...more
Mary
This self-referential and oddly elegiac telling of a failed love story reveals poignantly and without sentimentality the difficulty of chronicling one’s life. The fiction here reads like memoir and literary examination at the same time. The blending of the two is what makes this book extraordinary. It is non-linear, there is no dialogue, and arguably no plot. Yet, the telling compels reading as the narrator examines over and over again the details of her quotidian life, making her full on the pa ...more
Shelley
An author can examine life in too much detail. This book describes the construction of a story about the destruction of a relationship. There were many brilliant moments but there were too many times where my mind drifted and I struggled to get back.

No plot - no dialogue. I was happy to reach the end of the story.
Chris
This book is interesting as an exercise. Everything is told in a sort of tri-layer mishmash: 1)the story of the relationship. 2) the story of the author/narrator's life post-relationship. 3) the author/narrator talking about how they are writing the novel as the novel progresses. These parts fold very well into each other and sometimes are a little bit awkward in their juxtaposition, in a good way.
However, the actual story of the relationship is not all that interesting to me, and the fact that
...more
Thomas Mcphee
I'm not really sure what I think of this book, and in a year or so I still may not have figured it out. Here is a novel that is about a women writing a novel: the novel we are reading. Don't worry, I'll give you a minute to try and wrap your head around that. Once you get past that, you are then left with a story where very little happens. We watch a relationship, though not in chronological order, and often with odd tangential trips to other vignettes seemingly unrelated to the story at hand. I ...more
Isla McKetta
I have a love/hate relationship with this book. Some of the writing is impossibly good and yet the book overall is exactly the kind of meandering plotless blah that gives literary fiction a bad name. I wanted to love it, but I couldn't.
Laurie
Davis did away entirely with the business of narrative scenes and used what is left behind of failed relationships to tell the story of one: memory. I found this to be an appropriate way to tell this particular story.

The narrator is not so much unreliable as in the act of constructing a version of the past that she is sharing with us. She quite plainly tells us that she will be choosing what to put in and what to leave out. The recounting of the painful months in the aftermath of a relationship
...more
Peter
Wonderful existential novel, more self examination than Kierkegaard, a bit claustrophobic, but with humor and grace.

Davis, through the form of a novel about a brief relationship, explicates, among other things, the various motivations for writing novels, the slipperiness of memory, and the emotional interiors of the various stages of a relationship. Along the way, her thoughts about her boyfriend, while he was with her, but more often when he was away, either on a brief trip, or after their bre
...more
Chris
i got the voice of this narrator in my head and i'm not sure i want her out of my head
Jacob
this is the best book right here. this is what it looks like.
k
It's interesting to search for the climax in this novel, which seems to come pretty early, with the break-up at the airport, followed by a slow, tortuous, somewhat creepy winding down that never quite winds down. I wonder if it mirrors well the process of a difficult break-up, though the ~half of the novel that's taken up by creepy stalkerish behavior isn't quite as relatable as the part when the two are still dating, in which a number of feelings I've experience were condensed into perfect para ...more
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Lydia Davis, acclaimed fiction writer and translator, is famous in literary circles for her extremely brief and brilliantly inventive short stories. In fall 2003 she received one of 25 MacArthur Foundation “Genius” awards. In granting the award the MacArthur Foundation praised Davis’s work for showing “how language itself can entertain, how all that what one word says, and leaves unsaid, can hold ...more
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