Laura Yan's Reviews > The Collected Stories

The Collected Stories by Lydia Davis
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's review
Apr 10, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: short-stories
Read from April 10 to 19, 2012

it is a strange experience, reading Lydia Davis. It must be even stranger, being Lydia Davis. Her stories are like riddles, strange little puzzles that glimmer with lines of brief, startling beauty. In the language, I mean, and in its simplicity. She cares, deeply, about language, sentences, grammar, the order of words, and it's a bit of a strange experience reading it, for me, who tend towards the long and rambling and overly poetic (see?).

These stories are sometimes about the most mundane of people, places, things, so much so that if it weren't for the language--and even with that, sometimes the language feels flat, because it is meant to be so direct that it fails to uphold attention, and sometimes they're about surreal, strange circumstances. They are rarely traditional stories with compelling characters and plot lines. They are more like episodes of dreams, thoughts captured on the page.

Yet they are poetic and lyrical and strangely addicting to read. This 700 something paged book, with all these unconnected pieces, still remains compelling. These characters I sometimes forget, or begrudge for not being extraordinary, sometimes speak and are called to the page with such lines, such turns and arrangement of words and language and thought, that they linger, and I find myself framing my thoughts in Lydia Davis like structures, without contractions, in curious, simplified, different arrangements.

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